Researchers have shown that gene therapy may be used to stop the development of periodontal disease, according to the American Dental Association.
The finding, which comes from the University of Michigan, suggests an inactivated virus can help certain cells to create more naturally produced tumor necrosis factor (TNF) receptors. Patients who suffer from periodontal disease underproduce TNF.
Dr. William Giannobile, the study's principal investigator, said this is one of the first times the therapy has been used in relation to a non-life-threatening disease.
"[Periodontal disease] is more disabling than life-threatening," Giannoblie said. "This is so important because the next wave of improving medical therapeutics goes beyond saving life and moves forward to improving the quality of life."
Researchers also found the therapy may have more benefits besides improving dental health.
Targeted Genetics, a Seattle-based biotechnology company, collaborated with the university with the research and released human trial results showing the same gene therapy had positive effects in patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
The ADA recommends people to administer routine dental care by flossing and teeth cleaning to avoid developing periodontal disease. If left untreated, the disease can lead to other conditions such as hearth disease.
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