28 Sep Caries of the future could be prevented with plant-made antimicrobial peptides that target dental plaque
Protein drugs, which derive from biological sources, represent some of the most important and effective biopharmaceuticals on the market. Some, like insulin, have been used for decades. Newer products, based on cloned genes are coming to market and are valued for their precise and powerful functions.
Yet the field of dental medicine has very few such drugs due to their high costs, and the ones that are used are delivered invasively, often through surgical procedures, to gum tissues.
Now, a report by University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine scientists in the journal Biomaterials suggests a new approach for delivering a protein drug to treat and prevent oral diseases, including dental caries, commonly known as cavities. Using plants to produce antimicrobial peptides, the researchers were able to rapidly kill tooth-decay-causing bacteria and thwart their ability to form biofilms on a tooth-like surface with a single topical treatment. The peptides were even more effective when combined with an enzyme that degrades the matrix, which surrounds and protects bacteria residing inside biofilms.