About half of today’s children have tooth decay, so a new solution that blocks the action of bacteria which attack teeth could bring significant benefits, say scientists speaking Monday, 06 September 2004 at the Society for General Microbiology’s 155th Meeting at Trinity College Dublin.
Researchers from the Department of Oral Immunology at Kings College London have discovered how the bacteria which attack teeth, Streptococcus mutans, attach themselves to the enamel surface. Once stuck on, the bacteria convert sugar from our food into acid which then attacks the tooth surface.
“The bacteria use a special protein to recognise teeth, and it fits snugly into their surface like a key fitting into a lock. We have identified the small part of the protein which acts like the key,” says Professor Charles Kelly of Kings College London. “We made identical copies of the small part of the protein, called a peptide, and dripped it onto the teeth of volunteers to see whether it would block up all the possible keyholes, stopping bacteria from attaching to the teeth themselves.”
Faye Jones | alfa
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