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Flu May Boost Alzheimer's Risk

Thursday, 16 February 2012 05:14 PM

The flu may do more than leave patients feeling miserable.
New research suggests viral infections, such as influenza, may prime the brain for developing Alzheimer's and Parkinson's later in life.
Writing in the journal Science Translational Medicine, Harvard Medical School Dr. Ole Isacson said studies have shown that viruses and other sources of inflammation in brain cells "may be initiating factors in some of the most common neurological diseases."
Isacson said early research on the 1918 flu epidemic first provided clues to the link between viral infections and brain disorders. In 2009, a study also showed that mice injected with swine flu developed infections in brain cells linked to Parkinson's disease, he added. In addition, research has shown that herpes viruses can increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease.
If researchers could devise ways to limit or block the inflammation viruses cause, it could reduce the risk of patients developing brain disorders, Isacson noted.
“Therapeutic approaches that target immunological pathways …might decrease the incidence of neurodegenerative disorders and increase the therapeutic window for neuroprotection,” he said.

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Viral infections, like the flu, may leave patients vulnerable to developing brain disorders later in life.
Thursday, 16 February 2012 05:14 PM
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