Researchers at Lehigh University have received a grant from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop an antibiotic delivery system to target aggressive gum infections, according to a news release from the university.
The group, led by chemical and biomolecular engineering associate professor Angela Brown, PhD, is developing a liposomal-based method to kill the periodontitis-causing leukotoxin while protecting immune cells that fight infection.
"Leukotoxin fights the body’s immune response by binding with cholesterol in the membrane of white blood cells, disrupting the membrane and killing the cells," Brown explained. "So we’re creating a liposome that has cholesterol, and we’re hoping that all or most of the toxin will bind onto the liposome instead of the host cells. When the toxin binds to the liposome, it should cause a release of the antibiotics, killing the disease-causing bacteria," she said.
The NIH grant will support the cell culture work Brown's lab will perform to determine if the approach protects the host cells from the toxin while simultaneously killing the bacterial cells. The ultimate goal is to provide an alternative method of delivering antibiotics to treat aggressive periodontitis, Brown added.