Blood test could detect Alzheimer's 16 years before symptoms begin, study says

Blood test could detect Alzheimer's 16 years before symptoms begin, study says

Ronald Pratt
January 28, 2019

"Gum disease bug could play "central role" in development of Alzheimer's", The Independent reports.

However evidence has been growing that the function of amyloid proteins may be as a defence against bacteria, leading to a spate of recent studies looking at bacteria in Alzheimer's, particularly those that cause gum disease, which is known to be a major risk factor for the condition. This would seem to be a pretty cut-and-dry investigation with some pretty dramatic results, but other scientists in the field aren't completely sold on the findings.

They found evidence of toxic enzymes, known as gingipains, that are released by P. gingivalis, as well as DNA from the bacterium. Additional co-authors are Guo-Jun Chen of Chongqing Medical University, PhD, and Xiaomin Wang, MD, PhD., of the Beijing Institute for Brain Disorders, Capital Medical University. The team also gave the mice a drug that bound to the gingipain enzyme. And 91 percent of 54 patients tested positive for Kgp, or lysine-gingipain. When researchers exposed the mice to a substance previously developed by Cortexyme that blocks the production of gum disease-related toxins, infection was reduced and protein plaque accumulation stopped.

A drug developed by the company, COR38, is now in human trials. We already know that amyloid and tau can accumulate in the brain for 10 to 20 years before Alzheimer's symptoms begin.

"Infectious agents have been implicated in the development and progression of Alzheimer's disease before, but the evidence of causation hasn't been convincing", stated Stephen Dominy, lead author of the study.

The Science Advances publication details how researchers identified Pg, the keystone pathogen in chronic periodontal disease, in the brains of patients with AD.

"Forgetting something that's recently learned, not doing things we do on a daily basis such as hygiene or taking medications and living in different passages of time are all examples of symptoms of Alheimer's and Dementia", Ligeza said". This process is very high in Alzheimer's patients. This, says Lynch, shows P. gingivalis is a cause of Alzheimer's, not a result.

The researchers hope this will provide the basis for developing a new therapy that could one day treat humans in a similar way.

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Scientists from the University of Washington in St. Louis conducted studies with both mice and people. Some damaged neurons even recovered.

The research also lent support to the controversial idea that the peptide beta-amyloid is actually part of the brain's anti-microbial defence system, said the team. But he stressed this won't prevent the brain from becoming infected by P. gingivalis.

Antibiotics also worked similarly well, but less effectively.

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He adds that although we don't yet know the extent to which it affects dementia risk, "maintaining good dental health is an important part of a healthy lifestyle". Higher levels of neurofilament indicate brain damage, but this can also be due to brain injury from an accident, for example.

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".

The patients carrying the gene mutations predisposing them to Alzheimer's disease - a group of 243 - were found to have increasing levels of NfL compared to the control group, consisting of 162 family members without the mutation.

It sounds incredible that something so low key, albeit annoying, as gum disease might be responsible for such a debilitating disease like Alzheimer's that literally clogs your brain.