Laureate Professor Eric Reynolds is CEO and director of research at Oral Health CRC at the University of Melbourne.
WHAT SHOULD WE KNOW?
We now know that the mouth contains beneficial microbes and disease-causing microbes and the balance between them is critical for oral and general health. Genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors, as well as poor oral hygiene, can result in an imbalance and an emergence of disease-causing bacteria. This can result in chronic inflammation which destroys the tissues that support the teeth, including the jaw bone. This occurs in about one in 10 adults.
Poor oral health is also now linked with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, diabetes, certain cancers and rheumatoid arthritis.
WHAT’S COMING OUR WAY?
We’ve identified a key bacterium that can cause severe gum disease. We’ve produced a vaccine that, in animal models, switches this destructive immune response to a protective one that stops the disease. Human clinical trials are expected to begin in 2018. #