‘Strong evidence’ links gum disease to Alzheimer's, study says

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While doctors have not found the cause of Alzheimer’s, gum disease could be a potential risk factor, according to a new report.

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Researchers from health institutions in America, Norway and Poland recently conducted a study, published in the Science Advances journal, to explore the relationship between gum disease and mental deterioration.

To do so, they examined brain tissue, spinal fluid and saliva from dead and living patients with diagnosed and suspected Alzheimer's.

After analyzing the results, they found Porphyromonas gingivalis (Pg), a bacteria associated with chronic gum disease, in the brains of people with Alzheimer's.

The team then tested mice to determine whether mouth bacteria could travel to the brain. It can, according to their findings. In fact, they said the bacteria destroyed brain neurons and increased the production of amyloid beta, which is a plaque associated with Alzheimer's.

"We now have strong evidence connecting P. gingivalis and Alzheimer's pathogenesis, but more research needs to be done," co-author Jan Potempa said in a statement.

During the experiment, the analysts also developed a drug that successfully reduced the Pg bacteria in mice. They now hope to create a similar medication for humans. A clinical trial is planned for later this year.

“An even more notable aspect of this study,” Potempa said, “is demonstration of the potential for a class of molecule therapies targeting major virulence factors to change the trajectory of AD, which seems to be epidemiologically and clinically associated with periodontitis.”

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