Alzheimer’s Disease and Infectious agents: a new line of research, and hope.
The possibility that Alzheimer’s disease is closely tied to infections that cause the development of amyloid plaques is BIG news indeed. Exactly what causes the plaques has proved to be elusive for many years. As reported in this NY Times piece, researchers at Harvard have found that when infectious agents cross the brain blood barrier in non-human animal subjects, their brains respond by enveloping them in plaques consistent with the ways in which they form in Alzheimer’s disease in humans. It’s “early days” yet, but this could prove to be a very fruitful line of inquiry. Until an underlying cause, or set of causes for a disease is discovered, both treatment and prevention are severely restricted.