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A New Way To Treat Gum Disease?
November 7, 2013

By Nancy Volkers
InteliHealth News Service

INTELIHEALTH - Researchers are refining a new way to treat periodontal disease without antibiotics.

Symptoms of periodontal disease include:

  • Inflamed and bleeding gums
  • Gums that pull away from the teeth
  • Damage to the connective tissue and bone that hold teeth in the jaw

These symptoms are caused by the body's response to certain bacteria. Standard treatment for periodontal disease often includes antibiotics, to try to reduce the numbers of these bacteria.

Now, instead of destroying the bacteria, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh are trying to change the way that the body's immune system reacts.

The researchers developed a paste-like delivery system. The paste goes between the gums and teeth. It slowly releases CCL22, a protein that attracts regulatory T cells. These T cells "call off" the body's defenses, which are causing the inflammation, bleeding and other symptoms.

So far, the researchers have tested this only in mice and dogs. The CCL22 treatment led to:

  • Reduced inflammation
  • Reduced bleeding of the gums
  • Lower rates of bone loss

The group is planning to test the treatment in people in the future.

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published the study. It appears in the October 28 online edition of the journal.

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