Professor Ruth Itzhaki

Summary

Photograph of Professor Ruth Itzhaki

Contact details:

Telephone: +44 (0)161 306 3879
Email: ruth.itzhaki@manchester.ac.uk
Website(s):

Research interests

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a major brain disease, afflicting about 18 million elderly people worldwide. This figure will rise with increasing longevity, so there is an urgent need for effective treatment. The brains of AD sufferers contain many abnormal deposits called plaques and tangles, which are thought to play a crucial role in the disease. However, the causes of their formation and of the disease itself are unknown. We have been investigating whether a common virus has a role in AD. We found that many elderly people harbour this virus within their brain but only those who have a specific genetic factor are at risk of developing AD. Subsequently we discovered that the viral DNA is located specifically within plaques; also, infection with this virus causes production of the main components of plaques and tangles (called beta-amyloid and abnormal tau), indicating that the virus might be a cause of these abnormal deposits. Our recent experiments with antiviral agents indicate that they might be an effective treatment to slow AD progression in that they decrease the levels of beta-amyloid and abnormal tau which the virus induces. Also, the future possibility exists of prevention of the disease by vaccination against the virus.

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Highlight publications

  • Wozniak MA, Frost AL, Preston CM, Itzhaki RF. (2011). Antivirals reduce the formation of key Alzheimer's disease molecules in cell cultures acutely infected with herpes simplex virus type 1. PLoS One, 6(10), e25152. eScholarID:133508
  • M A Wozniak, R F Itzhaki. (2010). Antiviral agents in Alzheimer's disease: hope for the future? Therapeutic Advances in Neurological Disorders, 3(3), 141-152. eScholarID:82955 | DOI:10.1177/1756285610370069
  • Wozniak, M., Frost, A. & Itzhaki, R (2009). Alzheimer's disease-specific tau phosphorylation is induced by herpes simplex virus type 1. J Alzheimers Dis, 16(2), 341-50. eScholarID:24561 | PMID:19221424 | DOI:10.3233/JAD-2009-0963
  • Wozniak, M., Mee, A. & Itzhaki, R (2009). Herpes simplex virus type 1 DNA is located within Alzheimer's disease amyloid plaques. J Pathol, 217(1), 131-8. eScholarID:24562 | PMID:18973185 | DOI:10.1002/path.2449

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