A Common Gum Infection Bacteria May Also be Causing Alzheimer's

A simple blood test could predict if a patient will develop Alzheimer's disease up to 16 years before symptoms begin, a new study finds.

Gum disease, which affects a third of all people, has been identified as one of the main risk factors for Alzheimer's. Previously, researchers have shown that P. gingivalis causes inflammation in brain areas known to be heavily hit by Alzheimer's, causing neural damage and amyloid plaques in healthy mice.

The interest of scientists to these bacteria is not random.

Researchers at the University of Louisville detailed in their study how P. gingivalis was observed, with Dr Jan Potempa at the Department of Oral Immunology and Infectious Diseases in the School of Dentistry part of the study. At the same time they discovered the link between the pathogenic mouth bacteria and Alzheimer's disease still needs further study.

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 study also showed that sleep disruption rapidly spreads Tau while it also causes the release of synuclein protein which leads to Parkinson's disease.

"The evidence we found is important to moving forward because early identification of Alzheimer's disease can allow for earlier implementation of treatments and interventions that prolong the life and well-being of patients and their caregivers", said first author Gali Weissberger, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher at USC Keck School of Medicine.


The study pulled researchers closer to the role of sleeplessness in tau accumulation, clearing up some uncertainty about the protein's role. "I'm much less convinced that [it] causes Alzheimer's disease", says neurobiologist Robert Moir of the Harvard University-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston, whose work suggests the β-amyloid protein that forms plaques in the brains of Alzheimer's patients is a protective response to microbial invaders. In 2017, it was shown that deliberate infection gum-disease bacteria caused amyloid pathology and cognitive decline in a transgenic mouse model.

There is no cure for the disease as of yet.

A 2017 study out of Taiwan found that people with chronic gum disease lasting 10 years had a 70 percent increased risk for developing Alzheimer's.

Researchers have developed a novel approach that may one day make it possible to reverse memory loss, caused by Alzheimer's disease.

In the new study, Cortexyme have now reported finding the toxic enzymes - called gingipains - that P. gingivalis uses to feed on human tissue in 96 per cent of the 54 Alzheimer's brain samples they looked at, and found the bacteria themselves in all three Alzheimer's brains whose DNA they examined.

Next steps for the test include replicating the results in sporadic Alzheimer's disease patients, who are older and often have other health issues.

This is just one of several potential breakthroughs in Alzheimer's research coming in January. Later this year the firm will launch a larger trial of the drug, looking for P. gingivalis in spinal fluid, and cognitive improvements, before and after. The drug is now being tested in clinical studies. "We will have to see the outcome of this ongoing trial before we know more about its potential as a treatment for Alzheimer's".


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