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ECU research explores the emerging role of infection in Alzheimer's disease

Monday, 26 May 2008

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Edith Cowan University's (ECU) Professor Ralph Martins has released new research linking infection with Alzheimer's disease in a special edition of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

ECU's Professor Martins and Dr Judith Miklossy from The University of British Columbia were guest editors of the special issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease exploring the links between bacterial infections and Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's disease, the most frequent cause of dementia, is a form of amyloidosis. It has been known for a century that dementia, brain atrophy and amyloidosis can be caused by bacterial infections.

Bacteria and viruses are powerful stimulators of inflammation and were suggested by Alois Alzheimer a century ago to be one of the contributors in generating and sustaining chronic inflammation and amyloid deposition in Alzheimer's disease.

"Chronic inflammation and amyloidogenesis in Alzheimer's disease: The emerging role of infection" by Professor Martins and Dr Miklossy, is the first in a series of reviews exploring this new area of research.

According to Professor Martins, "the historic and new observations reviewed in this special issue clearly show that high priority should be given for further research in this field."

"Research in this area may have major implications for public health, treatment, and prevention as adequate anti-bacterial and anti-viral drugs are available" he said.

"Treatment of a bacterial infection and associated viral infection may result in regression and, if started early, prevention of the disease. The impact on reducing healthcare costs would be substantial."

ECU Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor John Finlay-Jones says that Professor Martins has made a significant contribution to the understanding of Alzheimer's disease.

"Professor Martins' research is crucial to reducing the social and economic impact of age-related diseases," he said.

Professor Martins is Director of the Centre of Excellence for Alzheimer's Disease Research and Care at Edith Cowan University.

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