Herpes Medication May Help Fight Alzheimer’s Disease

The herpes simplex virus is found to play a vital role in Alzheimer’s treatment. Antiherpetic medication is shown to have a dramatic effect on dementia risk.

study reported on Medical News Today last month found strong evidence that viruses are involved in Alzheimer’s disease.

According to the autopsy analyses of brain tissue, people who lived with this dementia type also had more herpes viruses 6 and 7 than people without Alzheimer’s.

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Now, a scientific commentary proposes that Medical News Today study is not the only one to identify a link between dementia and herpes.

Three more studies have strengthened this link, and the commentary newly published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease observed all three.

Ruth Itzhaki, a professor of neuroscience and experimental psychology at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, together with Richard Lathe, a professor in the Division of Infection and Pathway Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, in the U.K., authored the commentary.

The studies referenced in the commentary are two articles (Tsai et al., 2017, and Chen et al., 2018) that suggest acute herpes zoster infection places people at a greater risk of dementia, and one article that illustrates that aggressive treatment with antiherpetic medication extremely lowers dementia risk.

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The last study considered most important by Profs. Itzhaki and Lathe — examined 8,362 people aged 50 and above who received a diagnosis of herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection, as well as a control group of 25,086 age-matched healthy people.

The two groups were tracked for almost a decade, between 2001 and 2010. In the herpes group, the risk of dementia was over 2.5 times greater than in the control group.

The study also revealed that aggressive antiviral treatment reduced the relative risk of dementia by 10 times.

“Not only is the magnitude of the antiviral effect remarkable, but also the fact that in spite of the relatively brief duration and the timing of treatment — in most patients severely affected by HSV1 it appeared to prevent the long-term damage in the brain that results in Alzheimer’s,” Prof. Lathe stated.

READ ALSO: Simple Blood Test May Detect Alzheimer’s Years before Symptoms Begin

This article and two others […] provide the first population evidence for a causal link between herpes virus infection and Alzheimer’s disease, a hugely important finding.”

Prof. Ruth Itzhaki

Prof Itzhaki said:

This article and two others provide the first population evidence for a causal link between herpes virus infection and Alzheimer’s disease”

“I believe we are the first to realize the implications of these striking data on this devastating condition which principally affects the elderly,” Prof. Itzhaki adds.

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Itzhaki added: “we believe that these safe and easily available antivirals may have a strong part to play in combating the disease in these patients.”

“In the future, it may be possible to prevent the disease by vaccination against the virus in infancy.”


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