Alzheimer’s is a common type of dementia that usually starts with mild memory loss before progressing to loss of the ability to carry on a conversation with another person. Recent studies have found that the disease, which affects parts of the brain that control memory, thought and language, is actually an infection.
One such study suggested that gum disease, which starts as bacterial growth in an individual’s mouth, may be the bacterial culprit behind this degenerative condition. This comes after scientists discovered Porphyromonas gingivalis in the brains of deceased individuals who suffered from Alzheimer’s. Porphyromonas gingivalis is a pathogen that causes chronic periodontitis development, or gum disease.
The study, which was published in 2019, was led by Jan Potempa. Potempa, the senior author of the paper, is a University of Louisville microbiologist.
The scientists used mice models for their research, which showed that Porphyromonas gingivalis oral infections allowed the pathogen to colonize the brain and caused an increase in amyloid beta production. Amyloid beta are proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
The researchers also identified toxic enzymes, known as gingipains, that correlated with two markers of Alzheimer’s: a protein tag called ubiquitin and the tau protein. Gingipains are secreted by P. gingivalis in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s. This is in addition to identifying these toxic enzymes, albeit in low levels, in the brains of deceased individuals who had never been diagnosed with the degenerative condition.
Furthermore, the scientists tested a novel compound called COR388 to decrease bacterial load of the P. gingivalis infection in the brain and reduce amyloid-beta production. They found the compound to be effective, noting that it also reduced neuroinflammation In their report, the researchers hypothesized that the presence of gingipains in individuals who had never received a Alzheimer’s diagnosis suggested that they might have developed the illness had they lived longer.
They also noted that the identification of the toxic enzymes in the brains of those with and without Alzheimer’s meant that the brain being infected with Porphyromonas gingivalis wasn’t a result of poor dental care following dementia’s onset but a smoking gun that could explain the pathology found in middle-aged patients before they experienced a decline in their cognitive function.
The team of scientists was coordinated by Cortexyme, which developed the COR388 compound. The startup was cofounded by Stephen Dominy, the first author of the study.
The study’s findings were published in the “Science Advances” journal.
For patients who are already exhibiting signs of progressing Alzheimer’s, wearable devices made by the likes of MetAlert Inc. (OTC: MLRT) can help loved ones monitor the whereabouts of family members suffering from this progressive condition.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to MetAlert Inc. (OTC: MLRT) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/MLRT
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