Donald Demuth, PhD, associate dean for research and enterprise, University of Louisville (UofL) School of Dentistry in Kentucky, has received a patent for his work to develop peptides that inhibit the interaction between Porphyromonas gingivalis and Streptococcus gordonii, thus preventing P gingivalis colonization of the mouth. Peptides are molecules formed when 2 or more amino acids join together; they are the building blocks of proteins in a cell. “When P gingivalis enters the oral environment, it seeks out interaction with the bacterium S gordonii—an otherwise benign organism—in order to lay the ground work to propagate and ultimately gain a foothold below the gum line, leading to periodontal disease,” says Dr. Demuth. “UofL Oral Health and Systemic Disease Group director Richard Lamont characterized this bacterial interaction, and based on those studies my team developed a series of peptides that prevent P gingivalis and S gordonii from coming together.” Dr. Demuth found that administering the peptide in an animal model prevented P gingivalis related bone loss—the clinical symptom of periodontal disease—and prevented the spread of the bacterium in the mouth. “This is one of the first examples of a potential targeted therapeutic approach that may control periodontal disease,” he said. Dr. Demuth is building his research through collaboration with Frederick Luzzio, PhD, professor, UofL College of Arts and Sciences, department of chemistry. They hope to further develop organic molecule structures that mimic the active peptides. “The molecules must be potent and cost effective to manufacture. We know of no chemical technology on the market that targets specific oral pathogens, and this is an exciting endeavor,” Dr. Luzzio said. The discovery could lead to the formulation of a mouthrinse, toothpaste, or tooth varnish to prevent the pathogen from establishing itself orally. Drs. Luzzio and Demuth have a patent pending on certain discoveries related to this research. The investigators are working with the Office of Technology Transfer at UofL to find an industrial partner to license and commercialize the technology.
(Source: UofL School of Dentistry, March 27, 2012)