Often when people have gum disease, the inflammation triggers the release of a body chemical (metabolite) called succinate. Receptors called SucnR1, get activated by the release of succinate, causing jaw bone loss. This gives rise to not only jaw bone loss, but reduced support for the teeth, with the potential of tooth loss. Tooth loss, in turn also causes an increase in jaw bone loss. It’s a big, self-supporting circular process.
Researchers are trying to stop one of the steps early on in this process, to prevent bone loss and ultimately prevent tooth loss. They’re investigating a chemical (an SucnR1 antagonist) which would block the SucnR1 receptor and prevent it from being activated. Early research shows blocking the SucnR1 receptor halts bone loss and even prevents some inflammation.
The next step: How to administer this signal blocking mechanism. They’re currently working on both a gel and oral strip, which contains the SucnR1 antagonist. The strip would be implanted in the patient, for gradual chemical release, by the dentist. The patient would also apply this medicated gel on the affected area in the mouth at regular intervals.
Researches have received a $244,000 phase I grant to develop this new treatment. They will begin testing with animals. In phase II, they’ll move on to humans. And finally, if all goes well, this new treatment will be made available for those patients with gum disease.