Researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine that may be ideal for battling periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults, according to dental researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University.
The drug is called amixicile and has been found effective against the harmful “Red Group” anaerobic bacteria that are associated with advanced gum disease.
According to a release, the medicine was already in development for the treatment of and prevention of antibiotic-associated colitis caused by Clostridium difficile, which can cause life-threatening infections.
Researchers say amixicile may have another important benefit because it works differently than other antibiotics, which could make it difficult for bacteria to evolve to become resistant to it.
If proven true, the medicine could be used widely without contributing to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance.
“In the fight against antibiotic resistance, it is rare to find an antibiotic that breaks the rules, opening up the possibility for treating patients for life, just like statins drugs [are] used to lower cholesterol,” said researcher Paul Hoffman, PhD, of UVA Division of Infectious Diseases and International Health. “Why is this important? Medical researchers know that inflammation caused by chronic anaerobic infections like periodontal disease contributes to the onset of autoimmune diseases [like] rheumatoid arthritis, type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis and even Alzheimer’s disease. Think about it. Like taking a daily dose of aspirin for prevention of heart disease, taking a pill a day for prevention of inflammation might just lower risks for these other diseases.”
The researchers found amixicile was effective at inhibiting the growth of six different species of harmful Treponema spirochetes, which is associated with gum disease.
The drug also reduced the expression of virulence traits that allow the bacteria to penetrate tissue and promote inflammation, which are key steps in establishing gum infections.
The research also suggests the drug will accumulate in the inflamed gum areas where the pathogens are most concentrated, which might help beneficial bacteria in the surrounding healthy tissue.
The release says the researchers online looked at a subset of the factors that contribute to gum disease, which means more research will need to be done. However, they are encouraged by these early results.
The research has been published in the Journal of Periodontology in an article outlining how moving away from antibiotics that kill bacteria indiscriminately to ones that are more selective would be an “important step forward in the battle against the growing problem of antibiotic resistance.
Even though there are increasing concerns about “superbugs” that no longer respond to conventional treatments and existing antibiotics, there are few new antibiotics in development.