UCLA School of Dentistry Creates New Weapon in Fight Against Tooth Decay

Posted on: Tuesday, 10/23/2007

FINDINGS:              

A group of scientists representing the UCLA School of Dentistry; the UCLA Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics, and C3 Jian Corporation have succeeded in creating a pheromone-guided "smart" anti-microbial peptide capable of selectively eliminating Streptococcus mutans, a leading bacterial cause of tooth decay, in 30 seconds.

IMPACT:                  

Standard ways to combat bacterial infections include vaccinations, hygienic care and antibiotic treatment, all of which have limitations.  A new, experimental form of therapy, so-called "smart" or specifically targeted anti-microbial peptides (STAMPs), which have proven effective in killing harmful bacteria while leaving healthful bacteria intact, may be the answer to preventing tooth decay before it occurs.  Moreover, in the future scientists may apply the STAMP method to eradicate unhealthy flora in other areas of the body, such as the intestine.

AUTHORS:               

Randal Eckert, Jian He, Daniel K. Yarbrough, Fengxia Qi, Maxwell Anderson, and Wenyuan Shi.  Dr. Shi, professor and chair of the section of oral biology at the UCLA School of Dentistry, is available for interviews.

JOURNAL:               

The research is scheduled to appear Oct. 23 in the online edition of Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

GRAPHICS:             

Images and the full paper can be viewed online at http://aac.asm.org/.