A recent study has linked gum infection to Alzheimer’s disease. The study, published in Science Advances, found that a bacteria called porphyromonas gingivalis was found in the brain of 51 out of 53 autopsies performed on individuals with Alzheimer’s. This same bacteria causes periodontal disease which creates gum infection and potential tooth loss when left untreated.
The study was led by Dr. Stephen Dominy and Casey Lynch who are co-founders of a pharmaceutical company called Cortexyme. Their company focuses on Alzheimer’s disease treatment.
The researchers expanded their autopsy research into the lab by injecting a porphyromonas gingivalis (pg) inhibitor into mice. After injections, the mice showed a decrease in brain neurodegeneration. Lynch thinks this research has a potential benefit in the future as they continue to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease.
Although the gum disease and Alzheimer’s link has been mixed in various studies, Lynch explains that the link they revealed is much more statistically significant than in previous research. The next hurdle in research will be challenging. While evidence indicates PG can cause damage to brain cells, it is still unclear if this damage can result in Alzheimer’s disease.
Advances in Alzheimer’s treatment have been slow compared to the amount of funding received. A survey conducted by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated that five (5) million American’s are living with Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia.