January 2017 Crownicle Newsletter
Melbourne scientists developed a world-first vaccine for severe gum disease. This vaccine could eliminate or reduce the need for surgery and antibiotics. The team has been working on a vaccine for chronic periodontitis for the past 15 years. Clinical trials on periodontitis patients could potentially begin in 2018. Severe periodontitis is associated with diabetes, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, dementia and certain cancers. It is a chronic disease that destroys gum tissue and bone supporting teeth, leading to teeth loss.
The vaccine developed by Melbourne scientists targets enzymes produced by the bacterium Porphyromonas gingivalis, to trigger an immune response. This response produces antibodies that neutralize the pathogen’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.
CEO of the Oral Health CRC, Melbourne Laureate Professor Eric Reynolds AO, said, “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.” He holds high hopes for the vaccine.