In a move that could substantially reduce the need for surgery or antibiotics for people suffering from severe gum disease, scientists based at Melbourne University’s Oral Health CRC have developed a vaccine that works to prevent and reduce periodontitis.
It does this by targeting enzymes generated by the bacterium Porphyromonas gingivalis, triggering an immune response which produces antibodies that neutralise the pathogen’s destructive toxins.
It is hoped that the vaccine, the effectiveness of which has been validated by collaborative research by groups based in Melbourne and Cambridge (USA) , will reduce the incidence of chronic periodontitis which affects 1/3 of adults, including in excess of 50% of those over 65, and which is responsible for a number of conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and some cancers.
CEO of the Oral Health CRC, Melbourne Laureate Professor Eric Reynolds AO, said it was hoped the vaccine would substantially reduce tissue destruction in patients harbouring P. gingivalis.
“We currently treat periodontitis with professional cleaning sometimes involving surgery and antibiotic regimes,” Professor Reynolds said.
“These methods are helpful, but in many cases, the bacterium re-establishes in the dental plaque causing a microbiological imbalance so the disease continues.”
“Periodontitis is widespread and destructive. We hold high hopes for this vaccine to improve the quality of life for millions of people.”
Human clinical trials are expected to begin in 2018.
Courtesy of Australian Dental Association website – https://www.ada.org.au/