Microbes as possible contributors to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) will now be getting increased research attention from Alzheimer’s advocacy groups, says Leslie Norins, MD, PhD, CEO of Alzheimer’s Germ Quest, Inc. He bases this belief on two developments at the recent “AAIC-2019” Alzheimer’s conference, in Los Angeles, sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association.
For the first time in recent years, a full session was devoted to the possible roles of infectious agents. In a sign of the burgeoning interest in the subject, over 500 researchers attended.
Professor Ruth Itzhaki, of Manchester and Oxford Universities reviewed the reemerging interest in the herpes type 1 virus, which she had first spotlighted around 1990, but which had been largely ignored until recently.
Dr. Ben Readhead of Arizona State University described his evidence from brain analyses implicating herpes types 6 and 7. Harvard’s Dr. Robert Moir reviewed his new theory that the peculiar protein, amyloid, found in the brains of AD patients is not “trash” as has been supposed, but is actually a part of the body’s immune response to an invading microorganism.
The second notable occurrence, Dr. Norins says, was the statement on infectious agents issued by Dr. Maria Carrillo, chief science officer of the Alzheimer’s Association. She said, in part, “..there is now growing evidence that microbes such as bacteria and viruses may play a role..”
Dr. Norins says this is the first time he can recall infectious agents ever being recognized by the Alzheimer’s Association as legitimate research subjects. “We hope that they will follow this up with research grants addressing these clues,” he says.
Meanwhile, Dr. Norins says, other funders showed increased support for investigating infectious agents. The NIH’s National Institute on Aging, which has elevated this research to “high priority”, used its conference exhibit booth to encourage grant applications. Also, the Infectious Diseases Society of America Foundation is accepting applications for five grants of $100,000 each.
PHOTOS FROM THE AAIC19 CONFERENCE:
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