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VCR's Distinguished Lecture Series

The VCR's Distinguished Lecture Series was created in an effort to educate and help the research community stay abreast on the world’s most pressing research topics.

During each of their visits, invited lecturers will meet with UTHSC administration, faculty and staff to share ideas and foster collaborative efforts centered on education, research and entrepreneurial ventures. They will also deliver a scientific lecture to the UTHSC community.

"Alzheimer’s Disease and Periodontitis: New Connections, New Therapies"

Presented by Mark I. Ryder, DMD, Earl Robinson Professor in the Department of Orofacial Sciences at the University of California San Francisco on Septmeber 19, 2019 at 12:00pm in the Freeman Auditorium (930 Madison Ave., 3rd Floor)

With an aging population in the United States, the burden of the increase in the prevalence of Alzheimer’s Disease presents major personal and public health challenges. Current therapies which target the physical damage in the brain including buildup of beta amyloid and fibrillar tangles, have shown minimal improvements in cognitive function. This may due in part to the difficulty in reversing the advanced damage in the brain when a patient is diagnosed with the first overt signs of cognitive impairment. Therefore, new therapies are urgently needed to address the events that may precede overt signs of Alzheimer’s disease. One of these earlier upstream events may be the invasion of microbial pathogens and their products into the brain tissue, and their effects on inflammation and buildup of these hallmark deposits of Alzheimer’s disease.

Several previous studies have reported an association between periodontitis and Alzheimer’s disease. The role of P. gingivalis, a key bacterial pathogen in periodontitis, and gingipains, a key enzyme in breaking down tissue to supply nutrients to the pathogen, has received considerable attention as a potential upstream event in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s. In this presentation we will report on new studies that establish a biological link between p. gingivalis and gingipains with the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, we will discuss the development of new small molecule inhibitors of these gingipains and their effects on reducing both laboratory markers of Alzheimer’s disease, and improving cognitive function both in animal models, and in early testing on humans. Finally, through the use of these small molecule inhibitors, we will report on the design and goals of a recently initiated large multi-center and multi-national randomized control study to test the efficacy of this small molecule inhibitor. By demonstrating a biological connection between P. gingivalis gingipains on the initiation and progression of Alzheimer’s disease and the therapeutic benefits of administering inhibitors to these gingipains, a stronger cause-and-effect relationship can be established between periodontitis and Alzheimer’s Disease.

About Dr. Ryder

Dr. Mark Ryder is the R. Earl Robinson Professor of Periodontology at the University of California, San Francisco where he has been a faculty member for the past 40 years. He served as Chair of Periodontology from 2001 to 2017 and Director of the Postgraduate Program in Periodontology from 2003 to 2017. His major area of research has been in the links between periodontal diseases and systemic conditions and diseases including dementia, HIV, kidney disease, bone disease, and tobacco use. He has received awards both from the University of California and from national organizations for his entertaining and informative lectures, and for his contributions to dental education and research.

To see an archive of past presentations, please see the Recorded Lectures webpage.

Last Published: Aug 23, 2019