First ever gum disease vaccine underway

A vaccine is being developed that will treat periodontitis – and could be available to dentists if human trials are a success.

Australian drug makers CSL say the vaccine in is the advanced stages of development and is sealing a deal with a global vaccine maker that would initially support further and expanded research.

An experimental vaccine is being trialled in mice and, if successful, will proceed to clinical trials in humans within three to four years.

The company’s chief scientific officer, Dr Andrew Cuthbertson, said: ‘It has taken over 10 years to develop the vaccine to this stage.

‘CSL is pleased to advise of an agreement with Sanofi Pasteur to undertake a funded program to develop a vaccine for the treatment of periodontal disease caused by Porphyromonas gingivalis.’

Dr Cuthbertson said the research could also now be expanded to incorporate an antibiotic gel, to be developed alongside a vaccine, for the treatment of those with existing infection.

Sanofi Pasteur has obtained an exclusive worldwide licence to commercialise these products should they reach that stage.

The research has been continuing in a collaboration between the University of Melbourne and CSL, under the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Oral Health Science.

Professor Eric Reynolds, who is head of the university’s dental school and chief of the CRC, said the development of specific products to kill off the bacteria or prevent the gum infection would be a significant oral health breakthrough.

He said: ‘Periodontitis is a serious disease and dentists face a major challenge treating it, because most people will not know they have the disease until it’s too late.’

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