Much-needed new antibiotic shows great promise for treating gum disease

October 23, 2018 by Josh Barney, University of Virginia
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A new antibiotic being developed at the University of Virginia School of Medicine appears ideal for battling periodontal disease, the leading cause of tooth loss in adults, according to dental researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University led by Richard T. Marconi.

The drug, amixicile, was found to be effective against the harmful "Red Group" of associated with advanced gum . Amixicile is already in development for treatment and prevention of antibiotic-associated colitis caused by Clostridium difficile, dangerous bacteria that can cause life-threatening infections.

The researchers say amixicile may have another important benefit, too. Because amixicile works differently than other antibiotics, it is thought that it would be extremely difficult for bacteria to find a way to become resistant to it. That means it could be used widely without contributing to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance.

"In the fight against antibiotic resistance, it is rare to find an antibiotic that breaks the rules – opening up the possibility for treating patients for life, just like statins [drugs used to lower cholesterol]," said researcher Paul Hoffman of UVA's Division of Infectious Diseases and International Health. "Why is this important? Medical researchers know that inflammation caused by chronic anaerobic infections like contributes to the onset of autoimmune disease – rheumatoid arthritis, type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis and even Alzheimer's disease. Think about it: Like taking a daily-dose aspirin for prevention of heart disease, taking a pill a day for prevention of inflammation might just lower risks for these other diseases."

Benefits for Gum Disease

While amixicile could have many applications, it appears to have several benefits specific to periodontal disease. The VCU researchers, working in the laboratory, found that amixicile was highly effective at inhibiting the growth of six different species of harmful Treponema spirochetes associated with gum disease. In addition, the drug was found to reduce expression of virulence traits that allow the bacteria to penetrate tissue and promote inflammation, key steps in establishing gum infections.

Research also suggests that amixicile will accumulate in inflamed gum areas where the pathogens are most concentrated, a feature which might spare beneficial bacteria in surrounding healthy gum tissue.

"We were very excited by the outcome of this study," Marconi said. "The oral treponema associated with periodontal disease are a diverse group of bacteria. The ability of amixicile to effectively target these bacteria is a significant step forward that will provide a new and targeted treatment approach for periodontal disease. The need for antimicrobials that can specifically target specific groups of bacteria is of paramount importance."

Preventing Antibiotic Resistance

The researchers note that their tests looked at only a subset of the factors that contribute to . More research, they say, will need to be done. But they are encouraged by their early results.

In a scientific paper outlining their findings, the researchers note that moving away from antibiotics that kill indiscriminately to antibiotics that work more selectively would be an "important step forward" in the battle against the growing problem of . Despite increasing concerns about "superbugs" that no longer respond to existing antibiotics, there are few new antibiotics in the pipeline.

"Unbridled imagination and creativity have worked so well in advancing knowledge in so many medical disciplines – why not for antibiotics?" Hoffman asked. "The three big challenges to this end are, one, overcoming drug resistance; two, chemistries that limit drug metabolism and toxicity in humans and animals; and three, antibiotics that mitigate damage to the human microbiome. Maybe amixicile can teach us something useful about how to create the next generation of ."

The researchers have published their results in the Journal of Periodontology.

Explore further: Promising new antibiotic defies conventional wisdom on treating superbug

More information: Lucas A. Reed et al. Antimicrobial activity of amixicile against Treponema denticola and other oral spirochetes associated with periodontal disease, Journal of Periodontology (2018). DOI: 10.1002/JPER.17-0185

Related Stories

Promising new antibiotic defies conventional wisdom on treating superbug

July 28, 2014
A new antibiotic being developed at the University of Virginia School of Medicine to combat the dangerous C. difficile superbug also appears effective against a wide array of other pathogens, including the Helicobacter pylori ...

Promising new antibiotic targets potentially deadly gut infections

April 12, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have developed a promising new antibiotic to treat potentially deadly gastrointestinal infections without harming the beneficial probiotic bacteria ...

Recommended for you

Much-needed new antibiotic shows great promise for treating gum disease

October 23, 2018
A new antibiotic being developed at the University of Virginia School of Medicine appears ideal for battling periodontal disease, the leading cause of tooth loss in adults, according to dental researchers at Virginia Commonwealth ...

Researchers identify immune culprits linked to inflammation and bone loss in gum disease

October 17, 2018
An unhealthy population of microbes in the mouth triggers specialized immune cells that inflame and destroy tissues, leading to the type of bone loss associated with a severe form of gum disease, according to a new study ...

Periodontal disease bacteria may kick-start Alzheimer's

October 4, 2018
Long-term exposure to periodontal disease bacteria causes inflammation and degeneration of brain neurons in mice that is similar to the effects of Alzheimer's disease in humans, according to a new study from researchers at ...

Dental research shows that smoking weakens immune systems

September 26, 2018
As if lung cancer, emphysema and heart disease weren't enough, there's more bad news for cigarette smokers.

Regrowing dental tissue with stem cells from baby teeth

September 11, 2018
Sometimes kids trip and fall, and their teeth take the hit. Nearly half of children suffer some injury to a tooth during childhood. When that trauma affects an immature permanent tooth, it can hinder blood supply and root ...

The starch risk to teeth

August 7, 2018
An examination of research on oral health, commissioned by the World Health Organisation, has indicated that for oral health we should stick to whole grain carbohydrates and avoid processed ones, especially if sweet.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Anonym147377
not rated yet Oct 29, 2018
I am Alexes Heche, i purchased chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) herbal remedy from a herbal health clinic in Johannesburg (Natural Herbal Garden), it really helped me. I was diagnosed of COPD in Elisabeth-bruyère Hospital Ottawa Canada in August 2014. In June 2016, I had COPD exacerbation, my condition worsened and the doctors could not help me, the Flovent HFA and antibiotics prescribed stopped working, it was a terrible experience i had, so my wife reached out for an alternative treatment. My wife's co-worker who had initially bought pulmonary fibrosis herbal remedy from Natural Herbal Gardens referred us to them for help. We contacted them via their website and purchased the COPD herbal remedy, i immediately commenced usage as soon as i received it, it worked miraculously, my airways are repaired. Visit www . naturalherbalgardens . com I did promised i will post my experience as many forums as possible if i am cured, that i am doing now. 

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.