We may finally know what causes Alzheimer's - and how to stop it

Scientists at the company Cortexyme, working with academics from around the world, say the findings of their study could lead to new treatment options for Alzheimer's disease sufferers that work by targeting the bacterium Porphyromonas gingivalis, and they have developed a candidate drug that is now undergoing clinical trials.

Scientists believe this may be the case after their study found further evidence of the link between bacteria in a common type of gum disease and people with dementia.

Researchers at Cortexyme, a San Francisco pharmaceutical company, are looking into a potential drug to block the gum bacteria's apparent effects in the brain.

The research, a five-year-long study with more than 150 patients in clinical trials, has successfully identified the blood brain barrier as the root of the disease, which affects an estimated 5.7 million Americans.

However, James Pickett, head of research at the UK Alzheimer's Society, said that "in research we've supported to uncover the key risk factors for Alzheimer's disease, gum disease hasn't emerged as a major cause for concern".

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 the release of synuclein protein, a hallmark of Parkinson's disease. Potempa, J. (2019). Porphyromonas gingivalis in Alzheimer's disease brains: Evidence for disease causation and treatment with small-molecule inhibitors.

In October 2018, Cortexyme announced encouraging results from its Phase 1b clinical trial of COR388 at the 11th Clinical Trials in Alzheimer's Disease Conference. This timeline gives researchers an opportunity to study what happens in the brain in the years before cognitive symptoms arise.

Gingivitis causes the gums to become red, swollen, bleed easily - and, according to a new study, it might also cause Alzheimer's when it goes untreated for decades.

In the United Kingdom, there are 850,000 people living with dementia, Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of this condition, according to the Alzheimer's Society in the UK.

Do you know someone who lives with Alzheimer's disease?

What's more, when mice were treated with a drug blocking the enzymes, the neurodegeneration stopped.

As the number of Latinos in the United States grows, it will be vital that physicians and dementia clinicians use protocols that allow them to best assess the Latino demographic, the study said. They tested the tissue samples for the presence of 2 protein fragments produced by P. gingivalis bacteria, called gingipains to see if people with Alzheimer's disease had more gingipains in their brain tissue.

The research team's paper revealing the link between the disease and gum's disease was published Wednesday in the scientific peer-reviewed journal Science Advances. "We would send patients off for more specific Alzheimer's tests if the results come back showing a cause for concern", Professor Masters said. "It really will be important to see how this plays out in human randomized controlled trials, which is the gold standard for understanding whether a therapeutic targeting something like the P. gingivalis mechanism would actually be effective", she said. The Alzheimer's Association has a campaign called "10 Ways to Love Your Brain" to help people lower their risk. An epigenetic approach is advantageous, she said, because epigenetic processes control not just one gene but many genes.


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