Study Reveals New Treatment for Periodontitis

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Researchers at Penn Dental School of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health have found a new treatment for periodontitis involving a drug the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved for psoriasis that blocks the activity of IL-17 and IL-23. Using a mouse-based study, investigators say high levels of these signaling molecules appear to contribute to periodontitis.

In the study, funded by the National Institutes of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), researchers identified a mouse form of the human disease leukocyte adhesion deficiency, or LAD. This rare genetic disease causes recurrent bacterial infections and periodontitis in humans, according to the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Led by Niki Moutsopoulos, DDS, PhD, of NIDCR, the team successfully treated a 19-year-old patient with LAD (a chronic nonhealing wound) and severe periodontitis by using the drug that blocks the activity of IL-23. According to the study, after 1 year of treatment, the patient’s periodontitis and skin wound had improved. “This is really exciting because we see that a treatment performed in mice in our laboratory directly paved the way to a novel clinical treatment for a serious disease that was not responsive to any other treatment,” says coauthor George Hajishengallis, DDS, PhD, the Thomas W. Evans Centennial Professor in Penn Dental’s Department of Microbiology.

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