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Scientists: Gene therapy can be used to improve dental health
Updated: 12/17/2008 6:00:25 PM

Scientists: Gene therapy can be used to improve dental health Gum disease is a fairly common dental health problem, but if left untreated it can lead to serious problems - including tooth loss.

Now, scientists at the University of Michigan say they have discovered a way to use gene transfer to prevent the development of gum disease.

The findings, published online and in Gene Therapy, show that this technique can be used to promote the production of a certain molecule which is often low in people who suffer from periodontal disease.

In turn, this molecule acts as a sponge to absorb excessive levels of a different, damaging molecule that worsens inflammatory bone destruction in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, joint problems and severe gum disease.

Lead researcher William Giannobile of the U-M School of Dentistry explained that the therapy only needs to be administered once to function for the long term.

"If you deliver the gene into the target cells once, it keeps producing in the cells for a very long period of time or potentially for the life of the patient," he explained.

In the past few years, several studies have linked gum disease to a host of other health problems, such as heart disease and diabetes.

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