Molecule discovered that halts decay
You’ve been hearing it for years; don’t eat too much sugar, because sugar rots your teeth. It turns out that sugar isn’t the real culprit behind tooth decay. Researchers, looking at the bacteria responsible for dental cavities, had found a molecule that can stop these common dental problems.
Jose Cordova, a Yale University researcher, and Erich Astudillo, from the University of Chile, identified the new molecule, called Keep32, that kills the Streptococcus Mutans bacteria and halts tooth decay.
The Streptococcus bacteria usually work by metabolizing sugar in your mouth, turning it into lactic acid. It’s the lactic acid, and not the sugar that attacks tooth enamel and causes decay. So, if you subtract the bacteria from the chain of events, you don’t have the lactic acid, and thus, no tooth decay. Keep32 is very effective at killing Streptococcus Mutans.
What’s happened since this discovery? Now, there’s a race to making a commercial product, which could actually hinder plans to make the molecule available in a year or so. Several large companies are vying with Cordova’s team to patent the new Keep32 molecule. Also, if it’s classified as an antibiotic, it will have to go through more clinical trials like any new drug.
So, don’t bite into that candy bar just yet.
Pacey, L. (2012). Chile creates cavity killer BDJ, 213 (5), 202-202 DOI: 10.1038/sj.bdj.2012.793
causes of tooth decay, cure for tooth caries