A world-first dental vaccine developed by Australian scientists could eliminate or reduce the need for surgery and antibiotics for severe gum disease. Alongside industry partner CSL, the research team at the Oral Health CRC at the University of Melbourne has been working on a vaccine for chronic periodontitis. Their findings were just published in the journal NPJ Vaccines, and clinical trials could begin in 2018.
The vaccine targets enzymes produced by the bacterium Porphyromonas gingivalis, triggering an immune response that produces antibodies and neutralizes the pathogen’s destructive toxins. P. gingivalis has the potential to distort the balance of microorganisms in dental plaque, which causes disease.
“We currently treat periodontitis with professional cleaning sometimes involving surgery and antibiotic regimes,” said Melbourne Laureate Professor Eric Reynolds, AO, CEO of the Oral Health CRC. “These methods are helpful, but in many cases the bacterium reestablishes in the dental plaque, causing a microbiological imbalance so the disease continues.”
The recently published findings represent an analysis of the vaccine’s effectiveness. The collaborating groups were located in Melbourne and Cambrige, Mass. “Periodontitis is widespread and destructive,” Reynolds added. “We hold high hopes for this vaccine to improve quality of life for millions of people.”
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