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News Link • Science, Medicine and Technology

New study bolsters hypothesis that herpes virus causes Alzheimer's

•, Rich Haridy

The article makes particular note of new population data out of Taiwan, finding that people infected with HSV1 are much more likely to develop senile dementia.

The idea that neurodegenerative disease could be spawned by viral infections is not new. For much of the 20th century the intriguing hypothesis sat on the fringes of neuroscience while the more popular amyloid hypothesis rose into common consensus by the end of the century.

A few scientists have recently rekindled the viral hypothesis, and Emeritus Professor Ruth Itzhaki has been one of the primary investigators in the area, working for over 25 years on the association. Itzhaki's latest article offers a compelling overview of the science up to now, but perhaps the most interesting discussions are the ones surrounding newly released population data from Taiwan.

Taiwan is a treasure trove of data for scientists due to its National Health Insurance Research Database, which is composed of medical data from 99.9 percent of the population. Three recent studies have examined that data surrounding associations between viral infections and the development of senile dementia.

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