Bacterial spray can prevent tooth decay

by 5ocietyx

Here’s a report from 2002, that went off the radar at the time, but which we thought needed to be highlighted.

The report claimed a spray was being developed that would require a once in a lifetime spray of genetically modified bacteria into the mouth. Prof Jeffrey Hillman of the University of Florida, Gainesville, genetically altered the bacterium called streptococcus mutans into a form which does not produce lactic acid and therefore does not cause tooth decay.

“He added: “We gave our strain the ability to kill all other strains of strep mutans.”

Experiments on animals have shown that the GM bacterium took the place of the bad bacterium once it was in the mouth. The GM bacterium did not cause tooth decay even when rats were fed a high-sugar diet, and it even appeared sugar helped the bacterium to colonise the surface of the teeth.

Prof Hillman said: “Our approach has the potential of eliminating most tooth decay.”

He stressed the altered bacterium was genetically safe and stable and said: “I’ve spent 25 years working on this project, and I would not even begin to imagine distributing it if I couldn’t be completely confident it was safe for use by the general public.

“Most studies suggest that of the 500 or so bacterial species in the mouth, streptococcus mutans causes the majority of decay.”

He added that clinical trials would help determine if one application was all that was needed for lifetime protection. The proposed studies will involve squirting a liquid solution of the strain on the patients’ teeth. He said he hoped to start adult clinical trials this year.

The approach shows promise, said Dennis Mangan, chief of the Infectious Diseases and Immunity Branch at the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. “Prof Hillman’s work takes us one step closer to when everyone will be free from dental caries throughout their lifetime.”

Taken from  –