A bacterium seems to cause Alzheimer’s as well as gum disease. It’s hinting that our microbial denizens has involvment in many diseases we thought weren’t infectious. The suggestion that a bacterium behind gum disease could be the long-elusive cause of Alzheimer’s. It is an early contender for most astounding science story of the year.
The wide-ranging roles of the microbes
If future research confirms the implications of a landmark study, the finding will not only point the way towards new treatments, but may also change how we think about disease altogether. Over the past decade, it was amazing to discover the wide-ranging roles of the microbes in our guts and on our skin play in shaping our health.
The delicate balance of species that make up our body’s microbiome has been implicated in everything from allergies to diabetes. In some respects, our mouths are the original microbiome. Long before the human microbiome became a flourishing field of study, the knowledge that our mouths are home to a diverse array of bacteria that can, under certain circumstances, lead to tooth decay and gum disease, was commonplace, taught to many of us as schoolchildren.
Misregulationn caused the condition
That such bacteria may also play a role in Alzheimer’s disease. It is a dramatic swerve from previous thinking. It has focused on the idea that the misregulation of two particular proteins causes the condition. Only further research can tellus the extent to which one of the bacteria behind gum disease – Porphyromonas gingivalis – causes Alzheimer’s.
But whatever the long-term significance of this discovery, more studies will be done. In coming years, they are likely to reveal the involvement of the microbiome. It will be in a range of diseases we previously thought weren’t infectious. For now, we can only hope that this latest development will bring us closer to effective treatments for a disease. That brings terrible loss even before it kills.