This sort of degeneration leads to memory loss and disorientation associated with the condition - though it has to be noted that Alzheimer's starts damaging brain cells well before the first symptoms kick in.
The gene was also found in cerebro-spinal fluid from seven out of 10 living patients diagnosed with Alzheimer's.
Almost six years ago, Lynch received a call from Stephen Dominy, a psychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco, who had studied the link between HIV and dementia. However if wakefulness increases tau can accumulate faster than it gets cleared away, elevated levels, which are a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, can form toxic clumps and spread throughout the brain accelerating neurodegeneration.
The study, by United States company Cortexyme, says P.?gingivalis plays a "central role" in the development of Alzheimer's.
The experiment in mice showed "small increases in the levels of one of the Alzheimer's associated proteins with Pg infection that were prevented with the experimental drug", commented Tara Spires-Jones, deputy director of the Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences at the University of Edinburgh. The bacterium took hold, and the team later detected it in the mice's brains, where they also found dying neurons and higher levels of β-amyloid protein than in control animals, indicating the infected animals had developed signs of Alzheimer's disease.
An estimated 5.7 million people in the US are living with Alzheimer's, and that number is projected to rise to almost 14 million by 2050. Giving some of these to mice reduced their infections, halted amyloid production, lowered brain inflammation and even rescued damaged neurons. They did not resist the gingipain blockers.
Alluding to there being help for the disease, there are a several different FDA approved treatments for symptoms that come with Alzheimer's and Dementia.
However, he welcomed the avenue of inquiry as no new drugs targeting Alzheimer's have been released for over 15 years. This, says Lynch, shows P. gingivalis is a cause of Alzheimer's, not a result.
Alzheimer's is a degenerative brain condition that affects thinking, memory and behavior.
Mice are nocturnal animals, tau levels in fluids surrounding brain cells were found to be twice as high at night when they were more awake and active than during the day when they dozed more frequently; disturbing rest during the day caused daytime tau levels to double. And 91 percent of 54 patients tested positive for Kgp, or lysine-gingipain. It also seemed to improve participants with Alzheimer's.
They also plan to test it against gum disease itself.