Certain types of human herpes virus may play an important role in the development of Alzheimer's disease, according to a study carried out on brain samples taken from people who have suffered or not from this disease.
Researchers made this finding after analyzing data provided by brain banks and obtained from cohort studies from the "Accelerating Medicines Partnership" (AMP-AD) program. Specialists, however, stressed in the findings published in the journal Neuron that research does not prove that these types of virus are directly responsible for the installation or evolution of Alzheimer's disease.
There is currently no prevention or treatment method for this progressive degeneration of brain tissue, memory, and identity, but scientists hope that new, effective treatments can be developed based on this discovery.
"The hypothesis that viruses play a role in brain disease is not new, but this is the first study to provide solid evidence based on impartial approaches and generous sets of data supporting this pathway," said the director of the National Institute for the Elderly NIA), Richard Hodes, in a statement issued by the National Health Institute, according to Agerpres.
"This research reinforces the complexity of Alzheimer's disease again, creates opportunities for deep exploration, and emphasizes the importance of free and widespread information sharing among the researcher community," he added.
Researchers at the Icahn Medical School at Mount Sinai Medical Center and the University of Arizona's Neurodegenerative Disease Banner Center are looking to find out if medicines used to treat other illnesses can work in Alzheimer's.
The team studied DNA and RNA sequencing data from 622 donor brains with clinical and neuropathological features of Alzheimer's disease and 322 non-donor donor brains. Experts have discovered that Alzheimer biology is affected by a complex group of viral and genetic factors.
"This is the most convincing evidence so far that indicates a viral contribution to the cause or evolution of Alzheimer's," said Sam Gandy, a professor at Mount Sinai, co-author of the study.
Scientists have explored viral presence in six key brain regions whose high vulnerability to Alzheimer's is known. They found that human type 6A and type 7 herpes virus was twice as abundant in samples taken from Alzheimer's donors as compared to those who had not had this disease.
Researchers said that future tests would indicate if herpes virus activity is one of the causes of Alzheimer's.