One doctor believes that this is possible and offers him a million dollars for every researcher who produces convincing evidence in the next three years.
Scientists are struggling to find the mysterious source of Alzheimer's disease (AD). But what if it is not That mysterious? What if it is caused by a bacterium?
It's an infectious disease specialist, dr. Leslie Norins, can not stop wondering – so much that he created a public benefit corporation, Alzheimer's Germ Kuest Inc. (AGK).
The organization is offered by any researcher who produces convincing evidence of an AD "Bug" prize of $ 1 million.
"I do not" suppose "that AD caused by calls, "Norins explained." I'm just saying that this may well be a lot of death and suffering that we have to find out, in one way or another. "
What we know – and we do not know – about Alzheimer's
According to Alzheimer's Association, currently 5.7 million Americans currently live with AD.
Every 65 seconds, another devastating diagnosis is made by the middle of the century, it is expected that the condition will become even more common: Someone will find out that they have AD every 33 seconds.
This is an unacceptable state, which slowly disassembles thinking and memory. And so far, there is no way to prevent AD, cure or even permanently slow down the progression of symptoms.
The illness was first discovered in 1906 when Dr. Alois Alzheimer discovered the collapsed nerve cells in the post-mortem brain of a patient who suffered a loss of memory. Nevertheless, awareness of the situation did not begin until the 1980s.
In the decades since scientists made key discoveries – for example, there is a genetic component, and life factors, such as healthy eating, regular exercise and active social life can provide some protection.
However, the underlying cause (or causes) of AD remain irresistible.
The most popular theory is still "plaques and tangles".
Beta-amyloid is a protein that is broken and exhausted in healthy brains. But in people with AD, this protein is fixed in a plate that prevents the nerve cells of the brain working properly.
Also, gum works are fibers of another Tau protein that transports nutrients between brain cells. In people with AD, they are inexplicably complex.
What has not yet been clarified is what causes these plates and tangles in the first place. Obesity? Injuries to the head? Quiet bumps? High blood pressure? Family history of dementia? Advancing age? All are considered risk factors for AD.
"There are many potential provocative and causative factors involved in AD, which makes this disease difficult to solve and understand," said Dr. Verna R. Porter, Neurologist and Director of Dementia Program, Alzheimer's Disease and Neurocognitive Disorders at the Pacific Neuroscience Institute at the Providence St. John Health Center in Santa Monica, California.
Can you "catch" Alzheimer's disease?
Norins never planned to take as much of an acute interest in AD. He graduated from the Johns Hopkins University and Duke Medical School, studied immunology in Australia before sending the lab to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. He also spent more than 40 years as a medical bulletin publisher.
But the city he lives in, Naples, Florida, is filled up with pensioners, and over the years Norins began to find out more – and more – people with AD diagnoses.
"Quite of medical curiosity, I thought I had to complement this disease, which I did not really think about 50 years ago at the honey school," Norins said.
Regarding the background of infectious diseases, he wondered if a call could play a role, but was "freaked out" for what he considered lack of research, especially when it comes to widespread testing of available antiviral drugs or antibiotics as an AD treatment.
Penicillin, for example, can treat syphilis and lamus disease, two infections known to lead to dementia.
"Throughout the decade we have seen some hints in the literature that there may be a contribution to some microorganisms [to AD], but this is a marginal area of research, "said Dr Keith Fargo, director of scientific programs and research for the Alzheimer Association." It simply did not take the speed, usually because the size of the study is small or tend to have mixed results . "
Nine months ago, in an effort to encourage research and interest, Norins decided to create an AGK and a $ 1,000 million reward. So far, 22 researchers from around the world have applied.
"There's really nothing to lose," Norins said.
If AD appears to be caused by a microbe or parasite, "we may already have an anti-infectious substance against it or develop it," he said. "Maybe we could create a vaccine, in the way we now vaccinate adults from lilies, flu and pneumonia."
Great minds think similarly
Other experts from the AD area are thinking at the same time. After all, other deadly diseases, such as AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and Zike were caused by bacteria.
The human genome is "burdened with human virus residues," said Dr. Cori Funk, a senior scientist at the Institute of Biology of the Seattle system. "On average, every single person [is carrying] 10 to 12 viruses, although they do not necessarily cause a complete infection. "
So far, over 20 genes have been linked to AD, some of which have been included in the immune system. Over time, does an infection "turn on" one of these genes?
"I do not think there's any evidence [a virus] I can cause AD, but I can contribute to it, "Funk said.
He and his colleagues recently published a study in the Neuron magazine that found cheeses of herpes virus in people affected by AD.
A separate study published in Frontier in Agrarian Neuroscience noted that patients who were treated with antiviral drugs for herpes simplek 1 (a species that caused cold wounds) or herpes simplek 2 (sexually transmitted infection) had less AD in later life "so that at least There is Such Early Therapy Maybe to prevent some AD cases later, "Porter said.
Norins gives scientists three years to collect evidence of a possible AD "bug". He calls this "the duration of Goldilocks" for a long time.
"It could not be too short, like six months, because no one had time to compile his data. It could not be too long, like 20 years, because that basically says we can not help the current generation of patients," Norins said. "" Get the money to grant and try for the next 5 to 10 years "is not a philosophy that wants me when 303 Americans die every day from Alzheimer's disease."
For people who already have a diagnosis – or who care for their loved one with AD – for three years, they will still look like eternity. In the meantime, researchers continue to determine a blood test that can identify early signs of illness.
Drugs that can finally slow down AD symptoms are currently being tested in clinical trials.
"Today there is more optimism and excitement in dementia research than ever before," Fargo said. "We are potentially at the top of something that will change the game."
However, this may be a hit. Nevertheless, every hope is that the drug quickly follows.