Yeah… so remember that herpes vaccine?
We just got another reason to want that bad boy (as if we needed another reason):
Herpes simplex virus type 1 DNA is located within Alzheimer’s disease amyloid plaques.
So Wozniak et al cut up the brains of 11 people (who had kindly asked that their bodies be donated to science after their deaths)– 6 who had Alzheimers, 5 who did not. Turns out that ~90% of the plaques in the brains of Alzheimers patients also contained HSV-1 DNA and 72% of the HSV-1 DNA they found in the brain was in these plaques. There is a connection here. It might be that HSV-1 gets into your brain and causes problems (ie Alzheimers) as your immune system declines when you get old.
Well shit. Depending on the age group you look at, 50-95% of us are infected with HSV-1. Everybodys got it.
No, no ‘shit’. No reason to freak out over this. Please keep in mind this lab only looked at the brains of 6 Alzheimers patients, and the 5 ‘normal’ people. The ‘normal’ people were all HSV-1 positive too– they ALL had HSV-1 in their brains as well. But no Alzheimers.
So for the love of gawd, if you get cold sores, or you know youre HSV-1 positive, DO NOT FREAK OUT thinking you are destined to lose your mind. For Petes sake, this fact has NOT been emphasized in the billion pop-science articles I have read on these findings. DO NOT FREAK OUT.
This really is kinda good news. We have drugs for herpes that work really well. Aciclovir, and its relatives (Valtrex and such). Low toxicity, can get in the brain okay, so, um, yay!
If HSV-1 ultimately ends up being the cause of Alzheimers, we can deal with that! Better than tearing our hair out trying to figure out how to tame stem cells and gene therapy vectors and how to deliver siRNA and other crazy stuff weve been trying! Or hell, even the not-so-crazy stuff– handfuls of drugs that (evidently) dont work!
I repeat, HSV-1 people, DO NOT SPAZ! There is still a ton of research to do. This paper doesnt mean you will get Alzheimers. This paper might mean we are really close to a solution to Alzheimers.