Dominant theory about the causes of Alzheimer’s disease suggests that the condition is a consequence of the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaques in patients’ brains, as well as by the twisting of fibers from another protein known as tau. Scientists do not know exactly what role plaques and twists play in Alzheimer’s disease, but most experts believe they block communication between nerve cells and do not allow neurons to survive.
Alzheimer’s Theory: Younger Generations Think it’s Infectious
Over the last 20 years, another theory has begun to gain momentum, namely that Alzheimer’s disease may be a consequence of the action of an infectious agent. Currently, the theory is strongly defended by Dr. Leslie Norrins, who offers $ 1 million to those researchers who will be able to provide enough good evidence to prove it.
Currently, Dr. Norrins, who received his Ph.D. at Duke University Medical School, and his PhD in Immunology at the University of Melbourne, Australia, worked as a publisher and editor of medical texts. Prior to engaging in journalism, he spent seven years working as a laboratory assistant at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States. At the moment, Dr. Norines is the founder and president of Alzheimer’s Germ Quest, Inc., a corporation established in 2017 to “speed up the study of possible infectious causes of Alzheimer’s disease.”
The ‘Viral Activity’
One of the examples justifying the pathology of Dr. Norrins is the Neuron study published earlier this year, which links molecular, clinical and neuropathological signs about Alzheimer’s disease with viral activity (in particular, herpes virus). The authors emphasize that they do not detect a direct causal relationship between the neurodegenerative state and the virus, but suggest that the viruses are capable of triggering an immune response that increases the accumulation of amyloid protein.
The Alzheimer Association is Skeptical
In response to the publication, Kate Fargo of the Alzheimer’s Association in the US notes that much more work is needed to prove the link between herpes viruses and the disease. However, Fargo adds, if this relationship is confirmed and accepted by the medical community, it will provide grounds for developing new antiviral or immune therapies to treat and prevent the disease (for example, vaccines). It is also positive that the Association welcomes new ideas.
But although Norris’s award sounds motivating, it’s just a drop in the sea compared to the billions spent by the National Institute of Health on the study of amyloid factors and tau-proteins.