We all know that brushing twice a day helps prevent cavities, gum disease, tooth loss, cancer, and heart disease. However, according to a recent study published in Science, researchers have shown a link between mouth health and Alzheimer’s Disease. Although these discoveries are still undergoing clinical trials, this could be the breakthrough researchers have been waiting for in the cure for Alzheimer’s Disease.
Periodontitis is a form of gum disease that derives from the accumulation of plaque on teeth. Researchers at Cortexme, Inc. Therapeutics focused on one particular bacterium, Porphyromonas gingivalis, an anaerobe that fuels gum disease progression. This bacterium also plays a role in the development and progression of Alzheimer’s Disease, creating a link between the two diseases.
Upon infecting mice with P. gingivalis, a toxic protein called beta-amyloid was produced in the rodents’ brain. Beta-amyloid proteins form patches in the brain and disrupt communication between brain cells. This is a definitive marker of Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr. Stephen Dominy, Cotexyme co-founder, led a team of researchers who investigated gingipains, the enzymes released from P. gingivalis. High gingipain levels in both human and mouse brains were associated with the presence of two proteins linked to the development of Alzheimer’s Disease, tau and ubiquitin.
Across many models, gingipains increase tau toxicity, causing harm to the body and brain as a whole. After further research, Dr. Stephen’s team identified an effective gingipain inhibitor, COR388. This compound reduced the presence of P. gingivalis after infection in the mouth and lowered neuroinflammation.
In addition, COR388 protected neurons in memory-related parts of the brain as well as stopped the production of beta-amyloid.
For the first time, scientists have hard evidence relating a known pathogen to the unknown progression of Alzheimer’s Disease. This contemporary research, while promising, is struggling to advance in clinical progress.
Despite adequate funding and efforts of industry and academic communities, advances against Alzheimer’s have been surprisingly lacking. COR388 is under trial, and volunteers have responded well to the treatment.
In addition, the Cotexyme researchers are currently working to conduct a larger trial for those with mild Alzheimer’s Disease. This concrete linkage of periodontitis to Alzheimer’s Disease can help healthcare professionals find what they thought would be an impossible cure.