Do periodontal bacteria cause some cases of Alzheimer’s disease? Scientists at one start-up think so, and their investors are putting their money where their mouths are, moving forward with clinical development of a bacterial protease inhibitor. In the January 23 Science Advances, Stephen Dominy and Casey Lynch of Cortexyme, Inc., South San Francisco, California, claim that the oral pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis can move from the mouth into the brain, where it may instigate AD. People with Alzheimer’s disease have elevated levels of the bacterial protease gingipain in their brain tissue, they find. In mice, small-molecule gingipain inhibitors ameliorate infection, reduce Aβ42 peptide production and neuroinflammation, and protect neurons from gingipain toxicity. The company has completed Phase 1 clinical trials of their gingipain inhibitor COR388, and will run a Phase 2/3 study to determine if it can improve cognition in people with mild to moderate AD, Lynch told Alzforum.
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