Thursday, December 25, 2008

Gene Therapy May One Day Fight Periodontal Disease

Researchers have tested gene therapy for treatment of periodontal disease in rats. The therapy appears to help fight the disease. Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection. When the body tries to fight the infection, it releases molecules that can damage gums and bone.

Gene therapy uses a virus that has been altered to keep it from causing disease. The virus is used to add a gene to certain cells in the body. In this study, researchers from the University of Michigan added a gene to rats. The gene makes a protein that removes some of the molecules that are damaging the gums and bone.

In this experiment, rats had the bacteria that cause periodontal disease placed in their mouths. Then, gene therapy was given. The therapy stopped most of the gum and bone damage around the teeth. It also reduced the amount of inflammation-causing proteins.

Rats given the gene therapy also had fewer osteoclasts. These are cells that break down and remove bone.

The researchers are working with a biotech company called Targeted Genetics. This past summer, the company released a study showing that this type of gene therapy could be used to help people with rheumatoid arthritis. That study involved more than 120 people. The gene therapy reduced pain and helped people function better.

This is the first known research to use gene therapy for the treatment of periodontal disease. Researchers are planning next to test it on humans.

December 17, 2008

by Nancy Volkers
InteliHealth News Service

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