When developing diagnoses and treatments of complex illnesses, like Alzheimer’s disease, most of the battle lies in finding the root cause. However, that is much more easily said than done. Although science has made considerable progress in figuring what Alzheimer’s disease is, as in what physically happens to the brain with this illness. What is still left up to debate, and research, is what causes Alzheimer’s to begin with.
New research from Manchester University in the UK indicates that Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia could be caused by fairly common viruses like herpes. This may sound shocking, and the findings did indeed surprise the international medical community. However, these findings are brought to us by world renowned dementia experts who are urging scientists to investigate the link between dementia and exposure to certain viruses.
The main viruses in question here are the strain of herpes that causes cold sores, chlamydia, and spirochaete. The scientists – 31 in all from Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, and Manchester Universities, and Imperial College – published their findings in the editorial section of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. Here they indicate that viral or bacterial infections are the culprits that trigger dementia-causing plaque buildup.
In fact, most scientists currently studying dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are looking for treatments that prevent the accumulation of sticky amyloid plaques and misfolded tau proteins, which disrupt or prevent neuron from communicating. This leads to memory loss and a decline in cognition. The team of scientists that are encouraging research into viruses and bacteria say that there is incontrovertible evidence that there is a dormant microbial component in Alzheimer’s disease.
In the UK alone there currently more than 850,000 people suffering from dementia, and that number is due to spike up to one million by 2025, and two million by 2050. Although there are hundreds of drug trials taking place all over the world to help combat dementia, so far nothing has proven helpful in fighting Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
It is important to pay attention to these viruses and microbes because the brains of elderly people typically contain dormant viruses and bacteria that can “wake up” in periods of stress or if the immune system encounters any issues. More than 65 percent of people in the world will contract the herpes virus (cold sores) over the course of their lives, and many may never know they have it. After all, the herpes virus is already known to damage the central nervous system and the limbic system in the brain. The limbic system is responsible for mood and instinct, and is tied to mental decline and personality changes.
Scientists say that viral infections in the brain cause Alzheimer’s-like symptoms and therefore the link between viruses and dementia has been overlooked for too long.