Scientists have found evidence of a link between herpes infection and Alzheimer’s disease as well as the potential of antivirals in reducing the risk of the neurodegenerative disease.

In the study, when people who suffered with severe herpes infection were treated aggressively with antiviral drugs, the relative risk of dementia was reduced by a factor of 10.

Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) infects most humans in their youth or later and remains in the body for life in dormant form, within the peripheral nervous system.

A study by Taiwanese epidemiologists shows that herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1) leads to an increased risk of developing the disease, said researchers from the University of Manchester.

In a commentary, reported in the
Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease
on the three articles, the team argued that they provide the strongest evidence yet for a causal link between herpes infection and Alzheimer’s.

“I believe we are the first to realise the implications of these striking data on this devastating condition which principally affects the elderly. No effective treatments are yet available,” said professor Ruth Itzhaki.

“But we believe that these safe and easily available antivirals may have a strong part to play in combating the disease in these patients.

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