Now, researchers have found that not only patients with Alzheimer's disease have an increased level of two strains of the herpes virus, but the viral genes are actively destroying the human genes, which increases the risk of dementia.
The researchers were initially looking to come up with drugs to treat the disease but after making the computers models and running their data through it, preliminary results indicated that the genes changing in the Alzheimer's patients' brains were "known to have antiviral or antimicrobial activities". It suggests the human herpes virus, 6A and 7 to be specific, may have a role in the disease that robs people of their memory and cognitive functions. This is also the first evidence that integration of HHV genomes into human brain genomes may play a role in the etiology of Alzheimer's. Another takeaway from this new research study is that it suggests two paths for the future treatment of the disease.
However, it is still hard to conclude that the herpes viruses are responsible for Alzheimer's disease. Another theory is that Alzheimer's is a mix of disease process in the brain, but experts don't know for sure.
He said the team found more viral genetic material in Alzheimer's affected brains versus normal ones.
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"We mapped out the social network, if you will, of which genes the viruses are friends with and who they're talking to inside the brain", Dudley told NPR, offering an analogy: "If the viruses are tweeting, who's tweeting back?"
Dudley believes the new study could help scientists identify virus biomarkers in the brain that could one day help diagnose the disease and assess a person's risk.
Researchers pulled raw RNA and DNA sequences from almost 1,000 human brains both with and without AD to find new drug targets in the brain. But a team led by researchers at New York's Mount Sinai Health System found that certain viruses - including two extremely common herpes viruses - affect the behavior of genes involved in Alzheimer's.
"This study represents a significant advancement in our understanding of the plausibility of the pathogen hypothesis of Alzheimer's", said the study's senior author, Joel Dudley, PhD, director of the Institute for Next Generation Healthcare at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
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Recall that a virus the herpes infected nearly everything. This theory is considered controversial, but now researchers from the center of Mount Sinai has discovered new evidence of the link between herpes viruses and senile dementia.
Role in the manifestation of Alzheimer's disease is likely to be played by herpesviruses, a theory that has been formulated for years and is now reinforced by new American scientific research. But still, the findings of the study open doors for new treatment options for a disease which has many of failed trails. People with more severe cases of the disease showed more signs of the viruses.
Written by Jen Christensen for CNN.
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