Antiviral Medicine Could Help Halt Cognitive Decline in Early Alzheimer’s, Preliminary Data Show

Antiviral Medicine Could Help Halt Cognitive Decline in Early Alzheimer’s, Preliminary Data Show
Preliminary data from a Phase 2 study suggests that treating early Alzheimer’s disease patients who are positive for herpes simplex virus with an antiviral medicine may help halt their cognitive decline. Hugo Lövheim, MD, PhD, at Umeå University, Sweden, presented the results in a presentation titled “Valz Pilot Study – Valaciclovir treatment to individuals with early Alzheimer’s disease” at the 14th International Conference on Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Diseases and related neurological disorders, held March 26–31, in Lisbon, Portugal. Accumulating evidence, including a previous study from Lövheim’s team, shows that infection by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1) is linked with Alzheimer’s disease. These results suggest that antiviral medicines, such as valacyclovir (marketed as Valtrex, among other brand names) may benefit Alzheimer’s disease patients. To test the effects of valacyclovir, researchers are conducting a Phase 2 trial (NCT02997982) — called VALZ-Pilot — on 36 individuals with early Alzheimer’s disease, who have antibodies against HSV and carry the type 4 allele of the apolipoprotein E gene (APOE-ε4) — a genetic factor associated with a higher risk for developing early Alzheimer’s. Participants receive treatment with valacyclovir for four weeks — first dose of 500 miligrams (mg) three times daily for the first week, followed by 1000 mg three times daily for the remaining three weeks. Before and after the treatment, the patients' cognitive function is assessed using the Mini-mental State Examination (MMSE), as are their levels of Alzheimer’s disease markers (such as tau protein) in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF, the liquid bathing the brain and spinal cord). The MMSE is widely used to assess orientati
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