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Could Herpes Virus Affect Memory in Older Adults?
Date:3/25/2013

nfections were linked to older adults' mental test scores at the study's start -- but not to changes in their test performance over the next eight years. It's not clear why that was, Katan's team noted.

Strandberg said he thinks only a controlled clinical trial can give answers. He said a first step could be a trial where Alzheimer's patients are randomly assigned to take an antiviral drug to prevent reactivation of herpes viruses.

But Katan said any intervention would presumably have to happen earlier. "If they already have dementia, it's too late. The damage would be done," she said.

If further studies do confirm that certain viruses play a role in mental decline, prevention would be important. Katan pointed to vaccines as a potential way to protect people, "but we're a long way off from that," she said.

The study was funded by U.S. and Swiss government grants. Some researchers on the work and Strandberg, the editorialist, have ties to several drug companies.

More information

Learn more about dementia from the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

SOURCES: Mira Katan, M.D., neurologist, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York City; Timo Strandberg, M.D., Ph.D., University of Helsinki and University Hospital, Finland; March 26, 2013, Neurology


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