MELBOURNE: Australian researchers have developed a world-first vaccine for gum disease.
The vaccine, developed by a team from the University of Melbourne, will eliminate, or at least significantly reduce, the need for surgery and antibiotics for severe gum disease.
Gum disease, or periodontitis, affects one in three adults worldwide and more than 50 percent of Australians over the age of 65.
Commonly associated with diabetes, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, dementia and certain types of cancer, periodontitis is a chronic disease that destroys gum tissue and bone supporting teeth, leading to tooth loss.
The vaccine targets enzymes produced by the porphyromonas gingivalis bacteria to trigger an immune response which in turn produces antibodies that neutralise the pathogen’s destructive toxins.
Porphyromonas gingivalis is a keystone pathogen which has the potential to distort the balance of microorganisms in dental plaque, causing disease.
Eric Reynolds, CEO of the Oral Health Cooperative Research Centre at the University of Melbourne, said the vaccine would greatly reduce the tissue destruction caused by the pathogen.
“We currently treat periodontitis with professional cleaning sometimes involving surgery and antibiotic regimes,” Reynolds said in a media release on Monday.
“These methods are helpful, but in many cases the bacterium re-establishes in the dental plaque causing a microbiological imbalance so the disease continues.
“Periodontitis is widespread and destructive. We hold high hopes for this vaccine to improve quality of life for millions of people.”
Clinical trials of the vaccine in humans are expected to begin in early 2018.—APP