The team, led by Dong Wang, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmaceutical science in the UNMC College of Pharmacy, has developed a novel drug delivery system to carry antimicrobial agents directly to teeth. Their study was published in the November issue of Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.
One of the major factors to dental cavities is overpopulation of acid-producing bacteria in biofilm that is present on the tooth surface, eventually causing dental decay. Dr. Wang’s formulation would bind to the tooth surface and gradually release antimicrobials against cavity-forming bacteria such as Streptococcus mutans.
“The beauty of this design is the simplicity. All one may have to do is their routine oral hygiene procedure and then rinse with the formulation that we have developed. It could protect the teeth over a long period of time,” Dr. Wang said. “The key is to have the antimicrobials stay where they are most needed – the tooth surface.”
In addition to its primary intent of cavity prevention for the general population, Dr. Wang’s formulation could have many far-reaching implications – for the elderly in nursing homes who may not have a lot of access to dental care and for protection against an increased risk of heart disease. A recent study found that poor dental hygiene leads to heart attack and stroke due to the bacteria having direct access to the bloodstream through bleeding gums.
“The general research theme here is to manipulate the drug concentration at its intended action sites,” he said.
Based upon the same principle, Dr. Wang’s research group also explores the potential of using the drug delivery systems that they have developed to improve the treatment of arthritis, cancer, and several other inflammatory diseases.
Lead author on the paper was graduate student Fu Chen, who conducted many of the experiments together with Xue Li, another coauthor of the paper. Collaborators include Kenneth Bayles, Ph.D., professor of pathology and microbiology in the College of Medicine; Richard Reinhardt, Ph.D., D.D.S., the B.J. and Ann Moran Professor of Periodontology in the College of Dentistry; Xin-Ming Liu, research assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences in the College of Pharmacy, and Kelly Rice, Ph.D., from the University of Florida, Gainesville.
“We have a superb team,” Dr. Wang said, “It is a great honor and pleasure to work with these colleagues.”
A bacteria-fighting formulation may not sound pleasing to the taste buds – but Dr. Wang will work on that aspect as well to help ensure general use.
“We’ll sure look at different flavors. It must be something palatable,” he said.
As the state’s only academic health science center, UNMC is on the leading edge of health care. Breakthroughs are possible because hard-working researchers, educators and clinicians are resolved to work together to fuel discovery. In 2009, UNMC’s extramural research support topped $100 million for the first time, resulting in the creation of 3,600 jobs in Nebraska. UNMC’s academic excellence is shown through its award-winning programs, and its educational programs are responsible for training more health professionals practicing in Nebraska than any other institution. Through its commitment to education, research, patient care and outreach, UNMC and its hospital partner, The Nebraska Medical Center, have established themselves as one of the country’s leading health care centers. UNMC’s physician practice group, UNMC Physicians, includes 550 physicians in 50 specialties and subspecialties who practice primarily in The Nebraska Medical Center. For more information, go to UNMC’s Web site at www.unmc.edu.