New vaccine could one day prevent periodontitis

Scientists in the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Oral Health Science at the University of Melbourne, Australia, have identified candidate antigens for periodontitis and are now working with commercial entities to develop just such a vaccine.

Their approach targets the "ring leader" of a group of pathogenic bacteria that cause periodontitis: Porphyromonas gingivalis. The vaccine would trigger an immune response in the body that prevents the bacterium from colonizing the area between the tooth root and the gum.

CSL Limited, Australia's leading biopharmaceutical company with commercial rights in the CRC, has signed an agreement with Sanofi Pasteur to fund a program to develop the vaccine.

"We are very excited about this novel approach to the disease," said Eric Reynolds, CEO of the Cooperative Research Centre for Oral Health Science and the University of Melbourne Dental School, in a press release. "It will provide dentists and patients with a less invasive treatment, which prevents disease progression, rather than managing its symptoms and damaging consequences."

The vaccine development program involves identifying the bacterial peptides and proteins that trigger the immune response, and using these as the basis of a therapeutic vaccine. Pending the success of this research, further work directed at development of a preventive or prophylactic vaccine will be planned.

Should the research program be successful, Sanofi Pasteur has an option to an exclusive worldwide license to commercialize the intellectual property associated with the vaccine.

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