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The Alzheimer's "Germ" Quest


Alzheimer’s disease is named after a doctor, who in 1906 noticed changes in the brain tissue of a woman who had died of a mental illness that included symptoms like memory loss, language problems, and unpredictable behavior. After she died, he examined her brain and found many abnormal clumps which we now call amyloid plaques, and tangled bundles of fibers now called tau tangles. These plaques and tangles are still considered the main features of Alzheimer’s disease, and most research into its possible causes focus on them. But, there is a new branch of Alzheimer’s research that’s exploring whether there might be an infectious disease link to AD.

In 2016, a group of 33 prominent Alzheimer’s researchers authored an editorial in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease urging more research on infection as a possible cause. They noted several known agents that seemed relevant, including herpes simplex virus, chlamydia, HIV, parasites, fungi, and what are called prions.

But, the vast majority of research funding into AD is not looking at infection. On today’s show, we’re going to look at an effort called the Alzheimer’s Germ Quest that’s trying to do just that. We're joined Dr. Leslie Norins, he is a Fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, and founder and president of the Alzheimer’s Germ Quest, and he’s a Naples resident. We're also joined by Dr. Thomas Fekete, he is also a Fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, and chair of the IDSA Foundation which is offering five $100,000 grants to further research into possible infectious disease causes of AD. Dr. Fekete is also Chair of Medicine at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia. You can find information about the grant application HERE.