Blood test predicts Alzheimer's 16 years ahead

Desiree Burns
January 26, 2019

Across town at Roseman University, Dr. Eric Farbman is also encouraged by the study, but also warns it only applied to a certain kind of genetic Alzheimer's.

There have been previous suggestions that it may play a role in Alzheimer's, but the latest study by a US-led worldwide team of scientists appears to put the link beyond question.

In the new study, Cortexyme said it had found the toxic enzymes, or gingipains, that the bacteria use to consumer human tissue in 96% of 54 diseased brain samples they examined.

However, there was also good news. The team also gave the mice a drug that bound to the gingipain enzyme. They went on to find that a newly developed drug could clear the bacterial infection and seemed to stop brain deterioration.

Risk Factors involved with the disease and that age is the greatest known risk factor for Alzheimer's, include an individuals risk for developing Alzheimer's increases after the age of 65, having a parent or sibling with the disease increases an individuals risk and 5.7 million people are now living with Alzheimer's.

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.

The researchers who carried out the study mostly worked at Cortexyme, a private biotech company, with others working at Jagiellonian University in Poland, the University of California, University of Louisville School of Dentistry and Harvard University School of Dental Medicine in the U.S., the University of Melbourne in Australia, and University of Auckland in New Zealand.

The families form the study population of the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer's Network (DIAN), an worldwide consortium that is investigating the roots of Alzheimer's disease. Even the brains of roughly 50 deceased, apparently dementia-free elderly people selected as controls often had lower levels of both gingipains and the proteins indicating Alzheimer's pathology.

People with Alzheimer's are more susceptible to getting infections in their brains, so it may be that the gum disease bacteria and the toxic proteins they secrete are a by-product of Alzheimer's rather than a cause.

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The gene was also found in cerebro-spinal fluid from seven out of 10 living patients diagnosed with Alzheimer's. He and Lynch note that a study published in PLOS ONE in October 2018 by a team at the University of IL in Chicago also found that an oral infection with P. gingivalis can cause amyloid buildup and neurodegeneration in the brains of mice.

In a new paper led by senior author Jan Potempa, a microbiologist from the University of Louisville, researchers report the discovery of Porphyromonas gingivalis - the pathogen behind chronic periodontitis (aka gum disease) - in the brains of deceased Alzheimer's patients. 'A couple of years ago it was suggested [amyloid] accumulation might actually be part of the brain's innate immune system for dealing with bacteria, ' he says. Higher levels gingipain were associated with tau and ubiquitin, two other proteins involved in the development of Alzheimer's. We don't know for sure that P. gingivalis causes Alzheimer's disease in humans, or that the drug will work.

The researchers hope a drug that inhibits the spread of P. gingivalis in the brain could slow the symptoms of the neurodegenerative disorder.

In laboratory experiments, they found cell cultures infected with P. gingivalis showed signs of fractured or broken-up tau protein.

The bug was also shown rapidly to develop resistance against the broad-spectrum antibiotic moxifloxacin, but not to COR388.

"We validated it in people with Alzheimer's disease because we know their brains undergo lots of neurodegeneration, but this marker isn't specific for Alzheimer's".

Gum disease affects an estimated 45% of the United Kingdom population, according to the British Dental Association (BDA).

BDA scientific adviser Professor Damien Walmsley said: "This study offers a welcome reminder that oral health can't remain an optional extra in our health service".

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