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Research Points Toward Possible New Treatment for Periodontitis

Electron micrograph
Electron micrograph of Porphyomonas gingivalis bacteria showing hair-like fimbriae extending from the bacterial surface and also abundant vesicles released by the bacteria. Inhibiting the fimbriae may be a new way to treat periodontitis.

STONY BROOK, NY, February 28 , 2019 – Periodontitis is a progressive inflammatory disease that affects approximately half of all American adults. Colonization of the oral cavity by a bacterial pathogen called Porphyomonas gingivalis is a key event in the development of periodontal disease. This bacteria assembles hair-like structures on its surface called fimbriae to adhere in the oral cavity and initiate and sustain infection. Now researchers at Stony Brook University led by David Thanassi, PhD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology in the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University, reveal new details about how fimbriae are assembled and demonstrate that targeting P gingivalis with certain peptides inhibits the fimbriae, thus potentially halting the development of periodontitis.

Their method and findings are published in the March issue of Infection and Immunity.

The results of the research, conducted in collaboration with Stephen Walker, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Oral Biology and Pathology in the School of Dental Medicine at Stony Brook University, serve as a foundation for developing drugs that are specifically targeted to inhibit P gingivalis in the oral cavity, providing a new treatment method for periodontal disease and an alternative to the use of traditional antibiotics.

The research was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health REACH initiative via the Long Island Bioscience Hub and Center for Biotechnology at Stony Brook University, as well as IRACDA-NYCAPS Postdoctoral Fellowship from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

About Stony Brook University

Stony Brook University, widely regarded as a SUNY flagship, is going beyond the expectations of what today’s public universities can accomplish. Since its founding in 1957, this young university has grown to become one of only four University Center campuses in the State University of New York (SUNY) system with nearly 26,000 students, more than 2,700 faculty members and 18 NCAA Division I athletic programs. Our faculty have earned numerous prestigious awards, including the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, Indianapolis Prize for animal conservation, Abel Prize and the inaugural Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics. The University offers students an elite education with an outstanding return on investment: U.S. News & World Report ranks Stony Brook among the top 40 public universities in the nation. Its membership in the Association of American Universities (AAU) places Stony Brook among the top 62 research institutions in North America. As part of the management team of Brookhaven National Laboratory, the University is among a prestigious group of universities that have a role in running federal R&D labs. Stony Brook University fuels Long island’s economic growth. Its impact on the Long island economy amounts to $7.38 billion in increased output. Our state, country and world demand ambitious ideas, imaginative solutions and exceptional leadership to forge a better future for all. The students, alumni, researchers and faculty of Stony Brook University are prepared to meet this challenge.

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