Cold Sore Drugs Could Treat Alzheimer's

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 6, 2008 4:13 PM CST
An Alzheimer's sufferer.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – British researchers have firmed up a link between cold sores and Alzheimer's disease, the Times of London reports. The virus behind the sores apparently helped cause Alzheimer's in 60% of cases studied, which may mean that common antiviral drugs can stop the disease. “If we are right, there is a good chance we could make progress quite quickly,” the lead researcher said.

The University of Manchester group showed that the virus, HSV1, infected protein plaques in the brain cells of Alzheimer's sufferers. Now the question is whether the virus infects while active—when antiviral drugs would be effective—or during a latency period. The researchers are seeking funding for animal tests but have so far been turned down.