Antiviral may treat Alzheimer’s disease

According to the investigators, the herpes virus causes accumulation of two key proteins: β-amyloid and abnormally phosphorylated tau. While it has been previously shown that herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1) is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease in people with a specific genetic risk, the latest investigations show that the viral DNA is actually located inside the amyloid plaques in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. 

When certain antiviral agents, such as acyclovir, were tested to see what impact this would have on cells infected with HSV1, the scientists found this resulted in a “decrease [in] the accumulation of β-amyloid and P-tau, as well as a decrease in HSV1 replication,” lead author Professor Ruth Itzhaki says.

“The great advantage over current Alzheimer’s disease therapies is that acyclovir would target only the virus, not the host cell or normal uninfected cells. Further, these agents