AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 27, Number 3, 2018

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Unusually High Levels of Herpesviruses Found in the Alzheimer’s Disease Brain

Networks identified for developing new therapies to treat Alzheimer’s disease

 

Two strains of human herpesvirus—human herpesvirus 6A (HHV-6A) and human herpesvirus 7 (HHV-7) —are found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease at levels up to twice as high as in those without Alzheimer’s, researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai report.

Using evidence from postmortem brain tissue from the Mount Sinai Brain Bank, the research team also 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. 

This is the first study to use a data-driven approach to study the impact of viruses on Alzheimer’s and to identify the role of HHV-6A and HHV-7 in the disease. This is also the first evidence that integration of HHV genomes into human brain genomes may play a role in the etiology of Alzheimer’s. These viruses can cause encephalitis and other chronic conditions.

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