Researchers Find Herpes Viruses In Brains Marked By Alzheimer's Disease

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Officials tell News 10 that every 65 seconds someone in the U.S.is diagnosed with Alzheimers.

Alzheimer's disease has been linked with the presence of high levels of herpes viruses in the brain.

Much of the research described in the new study was performed in the laboratory of Joel Dudley, associate professor of genetics and genomic sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, associate research professor in the NDRC, and senior author of the paper in Neuron.

"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 says. "We needed to search for sequences from hundreds of different viruses, so having access to that raw, unprocessed data was absolutely key".

"We didn't set out to find what we found". "Viruses were the last thing we were looking for", Dudley says. "We don't know yet whether they're integrated or whether they're separate, but certainly there's a fairly robust association of these genomes in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's". He says The Longest Day is all about love - doing something to show love for those affected by Alzheimer's Disease.

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"This analysis allowed us to identify how the viruses are directly interacting with or coregulating known Alzheimer's genes". The viruses "seemed to be talking to some of the networks that contained some of the familiar Alzheimer's-related genes". The brains with Alzheimer's had levels of the herpes virus that were up to twice as high as in people who did not have the disease. "But what's clear is that they're perturbing networks and participating in networks that directly accelerate the brain towards the Alzheimer's topology". Now, the main theory is that sticky brain-clogging plaques are the culprit. What they found is that Alzheimer's biology is likely impacted by a complex constellation of viral and host genetic factors, adding that they identified specific testable pathways and biological networks. "They are sort of throwing a wrench in the works", he says.

"This study illustrates the promise of leveraging human brain samples, emerging big data analysis methods, converging findings from experimental models, and intensely collaborative approaches in the scientific understanding of Alzheimer's disease and the discovery of new treatments", said study co-author Eric Reiman, executive director of the Banner Alzheimer's Institute and university professor of neuroscience at ASU.

This is especially true because HHV-6A and HHV-7 are extremely common and often latent or asymptomatic: in North America, nearly 90% of children have one of these viruses circulating in their blood by the time they're a few years old. "But it would be negligent for us to ignore these results until the next study reports back, which will take several years".

The research study does not suggest that Alzheimer's disease is contagious. Note: material may have been edited for length and content.

Human herpesvirus 6A and 7 were more abundant in Alzheimer's disease samples than non-Alzheimer's.

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Currently, no effective prevention or treatment exists for this progressive deterioration of brain tissue, memory and identity, but researchers are hopeful that new, better treatments can emerge as a result of their work.

Some scientists have long suspected viruses or bacteria somehow set the stage for Alzheimer's.

Although the hypothesis that viruses play a part in brain disease isn't new, "this is the first study to provide strong evidence based on unbiased approaches and large datasets that lends support to this line of inquiry", comments NIA director Richard J. Hodes, M.D.

Dudley and his colleagues stumbled across this possible viral link to Alzheimer's during an analysis meant to find ways that drugs used to treat other illnesses could be repurposed for treating the dreaded neurodegenerative disease.

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