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New Treatment Spots, Kills Bad Oral Bacteria

Antimicrobial rinse could be used to fight cavities, bad breath, scientists say

MONDAY, Oct. 23, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Dental researchers say they've developed a new "smart" antimicrobial treatment that's programmed to search out and destroy cavity-causing bacteria.

The approach does not harm beneficial bacteria in the mouth, according to a team from the U.S. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.

The experimental treatment is called a STAMP ("specifically targeted antimicrobial peptide"). STAMPS have a two-sided structure. On one side is the short homing sequence of a pheromone, a signaling chemical that tells the STAMP which kind of bacteria to seek and destroy. The second side of the structure is a small antimicrobial "bomb" that kills targeted bacteria.

In initial laboratory tests, the first-generation STAMPS proved effective. They eliminated the cavity-causing oral bacterium Streptococcus mutans within 30 seconds without causing any harm to nearby harmless types of bacteria.

The research was published online in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

"We've already moved the S. mutans STAMP into human studies, where it can be applied as part of a paste or mouth rinse," senior author Dr. Wenyuan Shi, a scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Dentistry, said in a prepared statement.

"We're also developing other dental STAMPs that target the specific oral microbes involved in periodontal disease and possibly even halitosis (bad breath). Thereafter, we hope to pursue possible medical applications of this technology," Shi said.

More information

The American Dental Association has more about tooth decay.

SOURCE: U.S. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, news release, Oct. 23, 2006
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