Oragenics Inc., a biotechnology company at the cutting edge of dental research, is moving ahead with development of two products, Probiora3 and SMaRT, that could revolutionize the prevention and treatment of tooth decay and gum disease.
The company has already performed trials on Probiora3, a mouth rinse that contains three strains of natural, beneficial bacteria that inhibit tooth decay and periodontal disease, and Oragenics is seeking government approval to move ahead with trials related to a strain of Streptococcus mutans that has been engineered not to cause tooth decay.
The products are derived from technology licensed from the University of Florida and based on more than 25 years of research.
Most human tooth decay is caused by the bacterium, S. mutans, that sits on the surface of teeth and converts sugar into lactic acid that dissolves enamel and dentin. Using recombinant DNA technology, Hillman and other researchers at Oragenics eliminated the gene for lactic acid production in an S. mutans strain that produces a colonization-promoting antibiotic. This engineered strain of S. mutans does not cause significant tooth decay and can be used to kill and replace decay-causing strains of S. mutans.
“Our strain of S. mutans produces tiny quantities of a substance known as Mutacin 1140, which allows our strains to out-compete any strain of S. mutans that is naturally resident on a person’s teeth,” the company explains on its website.
“Our strain eliminates the resident strain of S. mutans and replaces it in the mouth.”
Oragenics expects that once its SMaRT strain of S. mutans is commercialized, dentists will be able to swab it on patients’ teeth during office visits. “Because our strain out-competes resident strains on teeth, one treatment may last for a lifetime,” the company says.
The technology has been tested on rats for nearly 30 years. In one study, Oragenics’ SMaRT strain of S. mutans and wild-type (lactic acid producing) strains of S. mutans were grown in the laboratory in the presence of sugar. The wild-type strains metabolized sugar almost exclusively into lactic acid, although they also made trace amounts of other acids and non-acidic compounds. The company’s SMaRT strain, in contrast, made mostly the non-acidic compounds and failed to produce any detectable lactic acid.
“We then infected two identical groups of conventional rats with either the wild-type strain or our strain,” the company reports. A third identical group of rats was not infected and served as a control group. After feeding the rats a sugary diet for eight weeks, the rats’ teeth were examined. “It was found that animals infected with our strain had no more tooth decay than did the control group animals,” the company says. “Both the group infected with our strain and the control group had only a fraction of the tooth decay experienced by the wild-type strain.”
The company has filed an Investigational New Drug application with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and completed the first of several safety trials. If the company receives FDA approval, it will then put the product through a Phase 3 clinical study to prove the efficacy of the technology in preventing tooth decay.
Oragenics’ other main product is Probiora3, a cosmetic mouth rinse that contains Streptococcus oralis, Streptococcus uberis and Streptococcus rattus, three natural bacterial strains that can be used for maintaining dental and periodontal health. S. oralis and S. uberis are normally found in dental plaque and can block the growth of bacteria linked to periodontal disease.
As we strive to provide the best in Glendale cosmetic dentistry and be the best dentist in Phoenix, we look forward to the day dental disease can be reduced even more.