03:44am Monday 29 May 2017

Using herpes drugs to slow down Alzheimer’s disease could become reality

Umeå University researchers, led by Hugo Lövheim at the Department of Community Medicine and Rehabilitation and the Unit of Geriatric Medicine, have launched a clinical study investigating the effect of herpes drugs on Alzheimer’s disease. For four weeks, 36 people with Alzheimer’s disease will be receiving treatment with Valaciklovir, a drug which specifically targets active herpes virus. Several investigations will be made before and after the treatment to measure the effects on fundamental Alzheimer’s disease processes. Moreover, the participants will be examined with brain imaging, which together with a tracer substance accumulating in cells with active herpes virus infection could potentially detect herpes virus infection in brain cells in people with Alzheimer’s disease.

“I’m very excited about this study. In earlier population-based studies, we have seen that herpes virus infection increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. It is very interesting to see if we can influence the neurodegenerative processes of Alzheimer’s disease by using a well-established treatment of herpes,” says Hugo Lövheim, lead researcher of the study and physician at the Geriatric Centre at the University Hospital of Umeå.

The study, named VALZ-Pilot, has been approved by the Medical Products Agency Sweden and the Regional Ethical Review Board in Umeå. The recruitment of study participants will be initiated in December 2016.

The study is funded by the Västerbotten county council, the Dementia Foundation and the Swedish Society of Medicine as well as the foundations Familjen Janne Elgqvists stiftelse, the Gun och Bertil Stohnes stiftelse, and the Magnus Bergvalls stiftelse.

Link to previous press release about the research team’s discovery: Cold sore virus increases the risk of dementia.

Read the previous study published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia:

Reactivated herpes simplex infection increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease

Herpes simplex infection and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease – A nested case-control study

For more information, please contact:

Hugo Lövheim, Department of Community Medicine and Rehabilitation, Unit of Geriatric Medicine, Umeå University
Phone: +46 70-297 9499
Email: hugo.lovheim@umu.se

Editor: Anna Lawrence

Umeå University


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