November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month
Here's why experts say not to panic, durring a 2018 study connecting two conditions of Herpes and Alzheimers:
The numbers are daunting. Approximately 5.7 million Americans live with Alzheimer's disease. It's also estimated that nearly one-half of people worldwide have herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), the usual cause of oral herpes, and more often now, genital herpes. And it's likely that one in eight people ages 14 – 49 in the United States has genital herpes caused by herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2).
Maybe you have one of these conditions, or know someone who does.
Alzheimer's and herpes may seem like unlikely partners, but they may have more in common than scientists once thought. The decidedly unglamorous herpesvirus, specifically human herpesvirus strains HHV-6A and HHV-7, may be involved in the development and progression of Alzheimer's, says a 2018 study published in the journal Neuron. Note: These two herpes viruses aren't sexually transmitted, while HSV-1 and HSV-2 are. There are actually nine types of herpesvirus that can infect humans.
But don't stay up late worrying that you will be immediately impacted by these findings, experts advise. Here's what you need to understand about this study and others linking Alzheimer’s and herpes.
What the research says about herpes and Alzheimer’s
In the study, the 15 researchers analyzed data from 622 postmortem — from a dead body — brains of people who once exhibited symptoms of Alzheimer's, along with brains of people seemingly untouched by this devastating disease. They found nearly two times the level of herpesvirus, HHV-6A and HHV-7, in the Alzheimer's brains when compared with the "normal" brains. The findings were replicated in two additional independent cohorts, or groups of people, the researchers said.
It's important to note that because the researchers found viruses in both Alzheimer's and non-Alzheimer's brains, we can't assume that herpes infections alone caused the devastating brain disease to develop.
According to a news release, researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai "identified previously unknown gene networks that will both offer new testable hypotheses for understanding Alzheimer’s pathology and reveal novel potential targets for new drugs that may arrest Alzheimer's disease progression, and could potentially prevent the disease if administered early enough."
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