Alzheimer’s Disease Causes: Are Germs Among The Culprits?
Research into the causes and the ultimate treatment of Alzheimer’s disease has been going on for many decades, and although methods and treatments to curb its progression have been developed by scientists, a complete cure for the disease has still not been developed. Of course, the research is still ongoing, so we have hope that, in the future, we may have a cure for Alzheimer’s disease after all.
However, for now, scientists are pushing forward an idea that has remained absent from the discussion surrounding Alzheimer’s disease and its cure: the theory that microbes may have something to do with the onset of the disease. Apparently, this idea has been under discussion for many years, but due to lack of funding to support any significant research in this area, it has remained under the wraps.
No Treatment So Far
Now that many years and millions of dollars have been spent on research to find a cure for Alzheimer’s, usually focusing on its hallmark signs, a group of scientists have begun to raise questions about the effectiveness of the research and whether they are looking in the right direction at all.
For example, according to Brian Balin, who is a neuropathologist working at the coveted Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine’s Center for Chronic Disorders of Aging, the research so far, which has focused on tau as well as amyloid-based therapeutics, has now reached maturity and may not prove to be of any significant outcome in terms of finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.
Instead, he is now suggesting that maybe these changes in the brain are only the symptoms of the disease, the end result of damage already done by some other underlying factor which needs to be targeted.
The Discussion So Far
This theory, which has been dubbed the Pathogen Hypothesis Theory, witnessed its first meeting of scientists back in 2014, with eight speakers who came on-board to discuss the possibility. The meeting which followed in Switzerland labelled Alzheimer’s as a chronic inflammatory disorder, and attracted a total of 24 speakers who discussed the possibility of another direction in the research surrounding Alzheimer’s disease.
Since then, the idea has been snowballing, generating support along the way as discussion has grown and expanded to include an increasing number of scientists from around the world. By 2016, a group of around 30 scientists decided to join hands and contribute to an editorial piece in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease with their signatures, demanding that more research be conducted in the possibility of a connection between Alzheimer’s disease and infection.
The group of scientists argued that it remained unclear if the plaque found in the brains of those suffering from Alzheimer’s is the cause or the consequence of the disease. They also highlighted the evidence which suggested that certain viruses as well as bacteria actually started the whole process, which hinted at the possibility that some microbes potentially remained latent within the body even for many years.
The Support So Far
Although support for the idea is growing as more and more people are becoming disappointed with the ongoing research into Alzheimer’s disease, it is still not significant enough to garner any real support as far as funding is concerned.
However, this support is expected to grow exponentially now that research is remotely but categorically hinting at the possibility of microbes contributing to the causation of Alzheimer’s disease. For example, a study conducted at the Arizona State University found, while inspecting the brains of those with dementia, that their brains were also more infected with two types of the herpes viruses, namely the HHV-6 as well as the HHV-7, compared to those without dementia.
Additionally, a study conducted at Harvard University found that amyloid clumps in mice are found as part of their body’s defense mechanism against infections, and in fact is one of the most primitive forms of immune systems to exist in mice, again hinting at the fact that an underlying disease or infection may be causing the amyloid build-up in the brains of those who have dementia.
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