Small molecule inhibitor might prevent tooth cavities

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Cavities can be as dangerous as personal injuries during an accident. In case of personal injuries, lawyers come to our rescue and in case of cavities dentists do the hard work. People paying a visit to their dentists more often might be happy about this update. In the recent update, the University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers seem to have created a small molecule inhibitor that can prevent or impede tooth cavity in a preclinical model. This inhibitor blocks the functioning of a key virulence enzyme present in the oral bacterium. This molecular sabotage has its implications. 

With this molecule present, Streptococcus mutans will be unable to make the sticky and protective biofilm that helps it in gluing to the tooth surface. S. mutans are the prime bacterial cause for tooth decay called dental caries. It eats away tooth enamel while producing lactic acid. However, with this update, we see this selective inhibitor of the biofilm acting against S. mutans. The inhibitor also reduces dental caries in rats by feeding them a caries-promoting diet. 

The researchers explained in an article presented in Scientific Reports, noting that the compound is ‘drug-like’ and easy to synthesize. It also exhibits potent efficacy in vivo. They continued noting that this can be further developed into therapeutic drugs to prevent and treat dental caries. It has been previously reported that approximately 2.3 billion people have dental caries in the permanent teeth. This report was published two years ago in a disease study, and the numbers have only gone up since then. It is a global issue, and there are a number of current practices in place to prevent cavities. Some of the efforts such as brushing teeth and using mouthwash can be helpful in removing oral bacteria but have limited success. 

Sadanandan Velu, who is an associate professor of chemistry currently in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences said that selectively taking away the bacteria’s ability to form biofilms will help the cause and if something like this can be found then it would be a tremendous advance in the field. Velu is even a lead researcher in the study. 

Hui Wu, a lead investigator in the study and a professor of pediatric dentistry in the UAB School of Dentistry, said that the research is exciting because it targets microbiota with the use of chemical probes that are tailored to the specific pathogen in a complex microbial community. He adds value to the research as he is even the director of UAB Microbiome Center.

Patricia S. Shelton

Sr Lab Instructor , Arizona Pharmacy


Go to the profile of Ben Libberton
over 4 years ago

Nice post! Do you have a link to the article?