Vaccine Could Inhibit Periodontitis

Dentistry Today
Image courtesy of Oral Health CRC/University of Melbourne.


Image courtesy of Oral Health CRC/University of Melbourne.

A vaccine that could reduce or eliminate the need for surgery and antibiotics for severe gum disease has been validated by recently published research. Scientists at the Oral Health Cooperative Research Centre at the University of Melbourne have been working on the vaccine for chronic periodontitis for the past 15 years with industry partner CSL. Clinical trials on periodontitis could begin in 2018.

The vaccine targets enzymes produced by Porphyromonas gingivalis to trigger an immune response that produces antibodies that neutralize the bacterium’s destructive toxins. P. gingivalis is known as a keystone pathogen, which means it has the potential to distort the balance of microorganisms in dental plaque, causing disease. The researchers hope that the vaccine could substantially reduce tissue destruction in patients who have P. gingivalis

“We currently treat periodontitis with professional cleaning sometimes involving surgery and antibiotic regimes. These methods are helpful, but in many cases the bacterium re-establishes in the dental plaque, causing a microbiological imbalance so the disease continues,” said Oral Health CRC CEO and Melbourne Laureate Professor Eric Reynolds AO.

Moderate to severe periodontitis affects one in 3 adults and more than 50% of Australians older than the age of 65 years. It is a chronic disease that destroys gum tissue and bone that supports teeth, leading to tooth loss. It also is associated with diabetes, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, dementia, and certain cancers.

“Periodontitis is widespread and destructive,” said Reynolds. “We hold high hopes for this vaccine to improve quality of life for millions of people.”

The study, “A Therapeutic Porphyromonas Gingivalis Gingipain Vaccines Induces Neutralising IgG1 Antibodies That Protect Against Experimental Periodontitis,” was published by NPJ Vaccines.

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