Has a path to a cure for Alzheimer’s been found?
Alzheimer’s disease is a modern-day scourge that accounts for 60 to 70 percent of the cases of dementia worldwide. In this neurodegenerative disease, brain cells and the connections between them are damaged, which causes loss of memory and cognitive impairment in general. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, one person in the United States is struck by this condition every 65 seconds.
The debilitating effect it can have on sufferers, as well as the emotional and caregiving toll on loved ones, has made this ailment the subject of much research for decades now. Sadly, drugs developed to deal with it have had a 99 percent failure rate thus far. Recent discoveries, however, are giving researchers new hope that they may now be on the path to a cure.
What We’ve Learned so Far
Researchers have known since the 1980s that one of the defining characteristics of Alzheimer’s is the accumulation of the proteins amyloid and tau in the brain. Despite this correlation, approaches centered on this amyloid hypothesis have not been working out in terms of leading to any effective remedies. Drugs that directly block or destroy these proteins are not improving the condition. Additionally, there are elderly people with these proteins who have no signs of Alzheimer’s.
A Recent Breakthrough
It has become known over the past couple of decades that gum disease can lead to other health problems in the body. Heart disease is one major condition that has a correlation with periodontitis. It now looks as though the bacterium associated with gum disease also has a causal link with Alzheimer’s.
P. gingivalis is the bacterium that causes gum disease, and it utilizes two toxic enzymes that researchers have now found in over 95 percent of 54 human Alzheimer’s brain samples. This extremely high correlation gives researchers confidence that they have uncovered the cause of this disease.
A Path to a Cure
With research strengthening the connection between gum disease and Alzheimer’s, there are now more options for treatment and drug research. Anyone who has been hesitant to brush and floss and see their dentist regularly should be told about this latest research. Gum disease prevention has already been important for preventing tooth loss and reducing the chances of heart disease and other serious conditions. Its association with increased risk for Alzheimer’s now makes preventing or treating it all the more imperative.
Improved Drug Treatment Options
By finding the toxic enzymes of the P. gingivalis bacterium in so many sufferers of this form of dementia, researchers are able to come up with drugs that specifically target them. Cortexyme is a pharmaceutical company based in San Francisco, and they’re working on a promising treatment that attacks the damage done by this bacterium. There are trials underway for their drug, known as COR388, and the results are promising. They are working on starting a larger clinical trial of the drug later this year.
Though there is more work to be done, it is looking hopeful that a future free of this debilitating disease is possible. The emotional toll that Alzheimer’s takes from those who suffer from it and their family members is enormous. The financial cost is tremendous as well with paid nursing care or loved ones having to miss work to care for elderly parents with Alzheimer’s. It’s hard to imagine anything more tragic than losing your sense of self by having your memories taken away from you bit by bit, and the possibility that this may end someday is a beacon of hope at the end of a tunnel of despair for those who may have to deal with this condition.
Home to Stay Senior Care Solutions is owned and operated by the Dubler and Skole Families and was started because of experiences they had with their own Families. In one situation Mom was living alone and had a fall. It was not until this fall that the family realized they were unprepared.
When it was time for their Mom to come home, she needed companion and personal care to assist her and prevent another accident. Like most people in this situation, they were confused and did not know where to go for help. It was this life-changing experience that lead to starting a home care company that is focused on enabling those who wish to stay at home and age in place.