A visit to the dentist could one day require a detailed look at how genes in a patient's body are being switched on or off, as well as examining their pearly whites, according to researchers at the University of Adelaide.
In a new paper published in the Australian Dental Journal, researchers from the University of Adelaide's School of Dentistry have written about the current and future use of the field of epigenetics as it relates to oral health.
Speaking on Dentist's Day (Thursday 6 March), co-author Associate Professor Toby Hughes says epigenetics has much to offer in the future treatment and prevention of dental disease.
"Our genetic code, or DNA, is like an orchestra - it contains all of the elements we need to function - but the epigenetic code is essentially the conductor, telling which instruments to play or stay silent, or how to respond at any given moment," Associate Professor Hughes says.
"This is important because, in the case of oral health, epigenetic factors may help to orchestrate healthy and unhealthy states in our mouths. They respond to the current local environment, such as the type and level of our oral microbes, regulating which of our genes are active. This means we could use them to determine an individual's state of health, or even influence how their genes behave. We can't change the underlying genetic code, but we may be able to change when genes are switched on and off," he says.
Associate Professor Hughes is part of a team of researchers at the University of Adelaide that has been studying the underlying genetic and environmental influences on dental development and oral health.
He says that since the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2007, epigenetics has had an increasing role in biological and medical research.
"Dentistry can also greatly benefit from new research in this area," he says. "It could open up a range of opportunities for diagnosis, treatment and prevention.
"We know that our genome plays a key role in our dental development, and in a range of oral diseases; we know that the oral microbiota also play a key role in the state of our oral health; we now have the potential to develop an epigenetic profile of a patient, and use all three of these factors to provide a more personalized level of care.
"Other potential oral health targets for the study of epigenetics include the inflammation and immune responses that lead to periodontitis, which can cause tooth loss; and the development and progression of oral cancers.
"What's most exciting is the possibility of screening for many of these potential oral health problems from an early age so that we can prevent them or reduce their impact."
The full paper can be found at the Australian Dental Journal's website.
Associate Professor Toby Hughes
School of Dentistry
The University of Adelaide
Phone: +61 8 8313 3295
Toby Hughes | EurekAlert!
Making fuel out of thick air
08.12.2017 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory
‘Spying’ on the hidden geometry of complex networks through machine intelligence
08.12.2017 | Technische Universität Dresden
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong
Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...
An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications
Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...
Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.
The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...
Transistors based on carbon nanostructures: what sounds like a futuristic dream could be reality in just a few years' time. An international research team working with Empa has now succeeded in producing nanotransistors from graphene ribbons that are only a few atoms wide, as reported in the current issue of the trade journal "Nature Communications."
Graphene ribbons that are only a few atoms wide, so-called graphene nanoribbons, have special electrical properties that make them promising candidates for the...
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
05.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Life Sciences
08.12.2017 | Information Technology
08.12.2017 | Information Technology