Researchers at the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry at the University of Southern California have created a bifunctional peptide film that can be repeatedly applied to existing dental implants to reduce bacterial growth and inhibit the development of peri-implantitis.
The researchers created the peptide (a short chain of amino acids) that binds to titanium and hung different antimicrobial peptides off of this anchor, making a film that kills bacteria, targets the worst pathogens, and hopefully reduces the speed of biofilm buildup.
The therapeutic peptide film could be applied in a dentist’s office as a water-based rinse that patients would swish around their mouths before spitting it out, though the researchers say it also could work at home, if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves it for such use.
Currently, some patients have to use low-dose antibiotics to stop bacteria from building up on their implants. A focused rinse, however, could be much more targeted.
“It’s a sniper rather than a nuclear bomb,” said researcher Malcolm Snead, PhD, DDS, who added that multiple applications could give patients extra years of service from an implant.
The researchers hope to refine these peptides, go to FDA safety testing, and move to large animal models for testing. They also believe the treatment may have applications in treating periodontitis, which is one of the world’s most prevalent infectious diseases.
“Our real goal is to be able to anchor antimicrobials on the tooth’s mineral component and create an antimicrobial environment just by brushing,” said Snead. “Doing that would hopefully reduce the amount of periodontal disease in the patient population.
Snead likens this initial work to Tesla’s strategy of developing better batteries so its cars can go longer and farther.
“By attacking the implant surface, we get the potential of developing a set of tools and molecules that could be applied to everyone’s teeth,” he said.
The study, “Repeatedly Applied Peptide Film Kills Bacteria on Dental Implants,” was published by the Journal of the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society.