New evidence shows viruses may play a role in Alzheimer's

Maricruz Casares
Junio 22, 2018

Their results found a number of common viruses in normal aging brains, but more specifically identified increased levels of HH-6A and HH-7 in AD brains, a finding that was subsequently validated in the additional patient cohorts. But the researchers, who published their findings Thursday in the journal Neuron, emphasize that their research doesn't prove that the viruses cause the onset or progression of Alzheimer's.

A provocative new study says viruses that sneak into the brain just might play a role in Alzheimer's.

The Dudley Laboratory at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai has an institutional partnership with Banner-ASU Neurodegenerative Disease Research Center.

They then tried to determine whether viruses are involved in the progression to Alzheimer's or whether they are, instead, bystanders or somehow consequences of the disease; it might have been the case, for instance, that people with Alzheimer's were more susceptible to viral infections.

A new study from a team at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai has revealed an unexpected correlation between Alzheimer's disease and high levels of human herpes virus DNA. They constructed, mapped, and compared regulatory gene networks in areas of the brain known to be affected by Alzheimer's on multiple levels, looking at DNA, RNA, and proteins.

"This is the most compelling evidence ever presented that points to a viral contribution to the cause or progression of Alzheimer's", said study co-author Dr. Sam Gandy, a professor of neurology and psychiatry and director of the Center for Cognitive Health at Mount Sinai in NY. They confirmed the finding by analyzing data from a consortium of brain banks.

Initial investigations of viral sequences were carried out using data from the Mount Sinai Brain Bank. But "more research is needed to discover exactly what roles, if any, they play".

"This represents one of the most important medical advancements of the century", Dr Howard said.

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The Association says if you are dealing with a loved one who has this disease, the first step of action is to get involved with a support group. "We are excited about the chance to capitalize on this approach to help in the scientific understanding, treatment, and prevention of Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases". I don't think we can answer whether herpesviruses are a primary cause of Alzheimer's disease.

Co-senior author Professor Dr Sam Gandy said: "While these findings do potentially open the door for new treatment options to explore in a disease where we've had hundreds of failed trials, they don't change anything that we know about the risk and susceptibility of Alzheimer's disease or our ability to treat it today".

The study presents novel evidence linking the activity of specific viruses with Alzheimer disease.

Readhead B, Haure-Mirande J-V, Funk CC, et al.

Grants include: AG046139, EB020406, AG016574, AG032990, AG046139, AG018023, AG006576, AG006786, AG025711, AG017216, AG003949, NS080820, NS072026, AG19610, AG10161, AG15819, AG17917, AG30146, AG36836, AG32984 and AG46152.

These results could provide a new avenue of research aimed at preventing and treating Alzheimer's, said Keith Fargo, director of scientific programs and outreach for the Alzheimer's Association. Most clinical advances would not be possible without the knowledge of fundamental basic research.

"This study from Joel Dudley's group lends support to the controversial hypothesis that viruses are involved in Alzheimer's disease and offers potential new paths for treatment". AMP-AD is one of the four initiatives under the AMP umbrella; the other three are focused on type 2 diabetes (AMP-T2D), rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus (AMP-RA/SLE) and Parkinson's disease (AMP-PD).

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