WASHINGTON (AP) — A provocative new study says viruses that sneak into the brain just might play a role in Alzheimer’s.

Some scientists have long suspected viruses or bacteria somehow set the stage for Alzheimer’s. Now, the main theory is that sticky brain-clogging plaques are the culprit. Thursday’s findings don’t prove viruses cause the mind-robbing disease but they promise to spur new research into the possible connection.

A team led by researchers at New York’s Mount Sinai Health System found higher levels of two very common herpes viruses in Alzheimer’s-affected brains than in normal ones. They then found evidence that the viruses influence the behavior of genes involved in Alzheimer’s.

If the findings eventually pan out, they could lead to new targets for Alzheimer’s treatment.

The study was published in the journal Neuron.

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