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Medicine Biotech Science

Cold Sore Virus May Be Alzheimer's Smoking Gun 285

Science Daily is reporting that the virus behind cold sores has been found to be a major cause of the insoluble protein plaques found in the brains of Alzheimer's disease sufferers. Researchers believe the herpes simplex virus is a significant factor in developing the debilitating disease and could be treated by antiviral agents such as acyclovir, which is already used to treat cold sores and other diseases caused by the herpes virus. Another future possibility is vaccination against the virus to prevent the development of Alzheimer's in the first place. The research was just published in the Journal of Pathology (abstract).
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Cold Sore Virus May Be Alzheimer's Smoking Gun

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  • What about heredity? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 07, 2008 @06:09PM (#26024427)

    Alzheimers runs in families, which is particularly worrisome for me since I have it on both sides of my family. If it is caused by a virus, then why is it passed down in genes? Are some people more sucseptible to this virus, thus there is a gene for vulnerabilty to this virus, instead of a gene for Alzheimers??

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 07, 2008 @06:20PM (#26024543)

    Herpes Zoster and Herpes Simplex viruses are killed with a silver ion concentration of 16ppm or more. Just hold the solution in your mouth for ten minutes, then spit it out. There is no danger of Argyria since most is discarded and very little remains in your blood stream. Estimates are 4 parts per billion, which is far below the 2 grams generally recognized as required for Argyria to show. The little that does remain is eliminated in several days, so it is wise to keep taking the solution as a preventative measure.

    The ions appear to work with the immune system much the same way as other trance elements are needed, like chromium, selenium, and so on. A deficiency of silver will make you more vulnerable to pathological infections, but these disappear as soon as the silver ions are absorbed into the blood stream.

    Most of the solutions sold in health stores is 3 to 5 ppm, which is too weak to do much good. You need about 16 ppm or more. With skill and practise, you can make this yourself for pennies per dose. Please see my web site at [] for more info.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 07, 2008 @06:21PM (#26024549)

    The team discovered that the HSV1 DNA is located very specifically in amyloid plaques: 90% of plaques in Alzheimer's disease sufferers' brains contain HSV1 DNA, and most of the viral DNA is located within amyloid plaques. The team had previously shown that HSV1 infection of nerve-type cells induces deposition of the main component, beta amyloid, of amyloid plaques.

    100% might have been a clincher. If anti-virals help, I might have rto eat my worlds.

    Most people have HSV1. HSV1 DNA locates in the amyloids. So most people expressing the amyloids would have HSV1 DNA in them.

    What's up with the 10% of alzhemier amyloids without the HSV1. It sounds like amyloid metabolism is the problem and HSV1 is along for the ride.


  • I wonder... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dexmachina ( 1341273 ) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @06:24PM (#26024579)
    With these findings in mind, it would be interesting if someone were to do a study and see if there's a correlation between Alzheimer's incidence and people who have a tendency to get cold sores. Since only 20-40% (according to TFA) of HSV-1 carriers develop cold sores, I wonder if being susceptible to outbreaks indicates a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's later in life. You'd have to correct for all sorts of environment factors, but still, as someone who gets cold sores something awful that would be a very interesting study. Anyways, great article, it's good news if something comes out of this. HSV in its different varieties is already known to be responsible for quite a few diseases so only good can come out of more research into it.
  • Herpes Simplex... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by actionbastard ( 1206160 ) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @06:42PM (#26024751)
    Might not be the only culprit here. Chicken pox (V. zoster) and Shingles (H. zoster) are related to HSV1 and HSV2. Many people may have had either -or both- of these infections as children or adults and carry the virus in a dormant state in their body. The research does not address these other -possible very prevalent- vectors in AD.
  • by repapetilto ( 1219852 ) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @08:15PM (#26025461)

    From your part 3: Apparently HPV does its magic by interfering with the expression of gene P52, a factor in cell death (apoptosis)... Most likely you meant p53, just sayin.

  • by Anachragnome ( 1008495 ) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @09:24PM (#26026151)

    I was just relating this post to my wife when she said "I wonder, if all that is true, if it is possible the vaccinations we all receive for chickenpox might actually be the root cause of all these diseases".

    Then I made another realization. Many of these diseases seem to be more prevalent then they have been in the past, that is to say that a higher percentage of the population are afflicted with these conditions then they used to be. Could the increase in these diseases correspond to the increases in vaccinating the public?

    Holy smokes. Are we inadvertently introducing a weakness to all these other diseases?

  • by jbengt ( 874751 ) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @09:26PM (#26026179)
    Blanket vaccination policies didn't quite work in the effort to eliminate smallpox.
    A change to aggressive targeted vaccintaion policies did the trick.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 07, 2008 @10:15PM (#26026623)

    Nope, I heard that joke several years ago; in fact my wife told it to me, I think she got it from her brother in England.

  • Re:timely article (Score:2, Interesting)

    by F'Nok ( 226987 ) * on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:06PM (#26027023)

    What's the issue?
    I know a lot of people (myself included) that actively avoid kissing, sharing glasses, etc with people that have cold sores.

  • by Ironica ( 124657 ) <pixel.boondock@org> on Monday December 08, 2008 @12:05AM (#26027737) Journal

    Holy smokes. Are we inadvertently introducing a weakness to all these other diseases?

    That's one of the main considerations of families who opt to selectively vaccinate or not vaccinate at all. While many (but not ALL) of the vaccinations on the CDC schedule have proven effectiveness in combating disease, there is *no* clinical evidence that the existing schedule (starting at two months of age with four shots, which carry a combined punch of 13 different disease strains) has any benefit over a schedule which starts later or goes slower.

    To run with varicella as one example, scientists have already speculated that the recent surge in shingles diagnoses is related to the varicella vaccination. The speculation is that our immune systems get a "refresher course" in supressing the varicella virus each time we come in contact with it... but now that most kids are vaccinated, it's really rare to come in contact with it, so it's easier for the virus to reappear as shingles in adults who had chicken pox as children.

    There's also not much known about what's going to happen throughout adulthood to kids who are vaccinated from it. The vaccine loses effectiveness after 10-12 years in most people, which means that kids become susceptible again at the beginning of the teen years... when the virus switches from "annoying as heck" to "possibly causing permanent damage to fertility."

  • by spectecjr ( 31235 ) on Monday December 08, 2008 @12:56AM (#26028267) Homepage

    From your part 3: Apparently HPV does its magic by interfering with the expression of gene P52, a factor in cell death (apoptosis)... Most likely you meant p53, just sayin.

    I understand where you're coming from, but p52 is also an apoptosis mediator.

  • by spectecjr ( 31235 ) on Monday December 08, 2008 @02:01AM (#26028827) Homepage

    From what I've been seeing, MS is more likely to be varicella zoster related than HSV1 related, however, your continued susceptibility to cold sores (most people stop getting them after a bout in their teens) may indicate a genetic susceptibility to herpres viridae.

    Here's the paper I found on varicella zoster & MS: []

    They're very similar viruses, and the treatment is nearly identical, so I wouldn't be surprised if treatment for one would affect the other.

    Looking into Rebif a bit more, it's an interferon. Other studies have shown that supplementation with interferons help considerably (in people with active HSV infections, typically blood interferon levels are low for one or more types of interferon; alpha, beta & gamma). Supplementing with interferons will work; I would try getting your doc to put you on valcyclovir as well and start eating a high lysine, low-arginine diet - or at least supplementing with lysine. See if it helps. Worst case, at least you won't get cold sore outbreaks :)

  • by spectecjr ( 31235 ) on Monday December 08, 2008 @02:29AM (#26029041) Homepage

    Interestingly, if you get HSV-1 before you get HSV-2, it gives you a degree of immunity to HSV-2. :)

  • by rta ( 559125 ) on Monday December 08, 2008 @02:43AM (#26029153)

    they think it causes it:

    They propose that a weakened immune system allows the virus into the brain.

    There, it causes flare-ups in the brain at various times when the person is stressed etc. Basically, just like the cold sores on your lips.... but in the brain.

    These cause the cells to create this non-soluble plaque stuff which then gets left behind when the cells themselves die.

    The treatment with anti-virals would presumably prevent, or decrease, the number of "flare-ups" in the brain and therefore reduce the rate at which this Alzheimer's inducing plaque is formed.

    (although i'm not clear on whether the damage is caused by the plaques or if the plaques are just a marker of all the cells that have been destroyed and the disease is actually caused by that destruction.)

    if you've had cold sores and paid attention to how they seem to develop one can see how it would be destructive.

    1) You start out perfectly fine.

    2) For whatever reason this virus starts reproducing in some of your cells (highly localized)

    3) a cluster of blisters forms.

    4) After a few days, the "blisters" stop forming and you're left with a moderately significant wound that takes a while to heal.

    Now imagine this happening in your brain... and remember that nerve cells, unlike skin cells, don't really reproduce much (if at all).

    (Incidentally, i'm one of the people for whom Abreva (an OTC medicine) works very well. If I put it on in time it stops the progression in its tracks. HIGHLY recommended.

    now if i could only figure out how to rub it on my brain.....)

  • by nog_lorp ( 896553 ) * on Monday December 08, 2008 @04:22AM (#26029805)

    Out of "over 16 million doses of Gardasil given" ... "at least 20 women who received the Gardasil vaccine have died, there is no evidence that deaths or serious outcomes were connected to the shot.[28] Where information was available, the cause of death was explained by other factors."

    That puts it at a 1 in 800,000 ratio, where most cases were not actually linked to the vaccine.

    At one SMALL beach where I live, lifeguards extract over 150 needles per year from the sand, well over 1 every 3 days. I'm willing to bet more than 1 in 800,000 of those needles are `found by accident`, and most of them were used by people with a chronic disease.

  • by pcgabe ( 712924 ) on Monday December 08, 2008 @04:40AM (#26029889) Homepage Journal

    Word wide, throughout history, no teenager in the world has ever thought - "I want to have (unprotected) sex... but I might get Human PapillomaVirus!"

    Sadly, I had a girl say (almost) those exact words to me recently. I thought she was joking. She wasn't.

    I don't see her anymore.

"Well, social relevance is a schtick, like mysteries, social relevance, science fiction..." -- Art Spiegelman