A new study has found that a drug commonly used to treat intestinal worms may help protect against the advanced gum disease periodontitis. In its advanced stages, periodontitis can cause erosion of the gums and jawbone surrounding the teeth as well as increase the risk of stroke or heart disease. The drug Oxantel has recently been discovered to help prevent the development of periodontitis. The research for this study was published in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.
Periodontitis is caused by a polymicrobial biofilm that grows on the root of a tooth and the current treatment is to scrape off this biofilm. Not only is this procedure costly and uncomfortable, but the biofilm often grows back. The researchers of this new study have discovered that in animal models of periodontitis, the drug Oxantel interferes with an enzyme required for biofilm formation which inhibits its development.
Research Into Oxantel
This study began as a search for a therapy for periodontitis in which they analyzed the symbioses of periodontal pathogens in animal models of periodontitis using genomics, proteomics, and metabolomics. The researchers soon discovered that the growth of the periodontal biofilm is dependent on the availability of iron and heme and by restricting these levels; the levels of an enzyme called fumarate reductase will also be reduced. Oxantel has already been known to interfere with fumarate reductase in some bacteria and the researchers found through successful testing that it can inhibit fumarate reductase in Porphyromonas gingivalis which is a major component of periodontitis biofilms. They also discovered that Oxantel is effective for inhibiting the growth of biofilms that contain P. gingivalis as well as Tannerella forsythia and Treponema denticola.
Dangers of Periodontitis
Periodontitis is a wide spread disease that affects approximately 30 to 47 percent of the adult population. Pathogenic bacteria from periodontitis can enter the bloodstream and increase the risks of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, and dementia as well as contribute to inflammation. The development of periodontitis has also been correlated with an increased risk in certain cancers of the head, neck, and mouth. The researchers hope that with further study, Oxantel may be used to disrupt the growth of polymicrobial biofilms to protect against the development of periodontitis.