Gum disease bug linked to Alzheimer's (and new drug is being tested)

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"Drugs targeting the bacteria's toxic proteins have so far only shown benefit in mice, yet with no new dementia treatments in over 15 years it's important that we test as many approaches as possible to tackle diseases like Alzheimer's", he said in a statement.

University of Louisville researcher Jan Potempa, Ph.D., Department of Oral Immunology and Infectious Diseases in the School of Dentistry, was part of the team of global scientists led by Cortexyme Inc., a privately held, clinical-stage pharmaceutical company.

But a new study found a blood test that could predict if someone will develop Alzheimer's as many as 16 years before symptoms set in.

'The upcoming clinical trial will be a crucial test to see if this can be a potential treatment for Alzheimer's'.

However, he said the study was limited because the team has not yet determined if different strains of P. gingivalis are more virulent than others in causing brain infection.

It's possible that news of the possible link will lead to people spending more time on their dental health than they now do, though: One study found less than one third of Americans floss daily.


The researchers also found that disrupted sleep increased release of synuclein protein, a hallmark of Parkinson's disease.

New science uncovers how an unlikely culprit, Porphyromonas gingivalis (Pg) - the bacterium commonly associated with chronic gum disease - appears to drive Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathology.

While the new results are certainly exciting, and the study is the largest ever to investigate the link between Alzheimer's and P. gingivalis, it's important to note that it doesn't prove the bacterium causes Alzheimer's, just that it is likely a contributing factor. "The interesting thing about this study is that it suggests that real-life factors such as sleep might affect how fast the disease spreads through the brain", said David Holtzman, MD, a neurologist at WUSM.

Researchers injected the hippocampi of mice with clumps of tau and then kept the mice awake for long periods of times. They also studied the enzyme's effects in the brains of mice, and found that it caused the animals to develop signs of Alzheimer's.

DNA tests on three brains with Alzheimer's disease and six healthy brains also had the gene associated with P. gingivalis in their tissue.

The researchers say they have also begun "new drug application-enabling studies" with the gingipain-inhibiting substance tested here.


But a United States study has proved for the first time that the bacteria Porphyromonas gingivalis, a major cause of gum disease, can move from the mouth to the brain in mice, which suffered damage to cells in the hippocampus - the brain region important for memory.

'Getting a good night's sleep is something we should all try to do.

In the study, the scientists observed that people with Alzheimer's Disease presented higher rates of toxic enzymes produced by P. gingivalis called gingipains. Some studies suggest that the prevalence of dementia might be higher among Hispanics than non-Hispanic whites.

The findings, which were published in the January 14 issue of Nature Medicine, can potentially help with early Alzheimer's diagnoses and new drug development. However, looking at the presence of bacteria in human brain tissue doesn't tell us anything about whether this may have a role in causing the disease.

Four forms of Dementia are prevalent resulting in the decline of the brain including Alzheimer's, Vascular Dementia, Dementia with Lewy Bodies and Frontotemporal Dementia.

Authors say the data suggests it may be more hard for clinicians to detect AD in its mild to moderate stages among living Hispanic patients compared to non-Hispanic patients.


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