Study: Possible New Weapon in the Fight Against Gum Disease

Posted on August 18, 2016

New research published online in The FASEB Journal, shows that melanocortin agonism may effectively control the inflammation that often occurs in gum tissue, which when unchecked, ultimately accelerates tooth and bone loss. This research involving mice, opens the door to a new class of treatments for gum disease.

"Controlling inflammation during gum disease is a key step to avoid alveolar bone resorption, tooth loss and, thus, improve the quality of life of patients," said Mila Madeira, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Department of Microbiology at the Biologic Science Institute at the Universidad Federal de Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil.

To make their discovery, Madeira and colleagues used several groups of mice. The first group was infected with bacteria related to gum disease and then treated them with a melanocortin agonist. The second group had no infection. The third group was infected, but not treated. The final group was infected but treated with a placebo. Melanocortin agonism was associated with reduced alveolar bone resorption and less inflammation, a critical feature to be controlled in gum diseases.

"Attenuation of the inflammatory axis of periodontal pathology cannot be overstated in its importance ," said Thoru Pederson, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. "These findings provide an entirely new approach to this highly prevalent condition."

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