Gene therapy has found to be effective in impeding the development of periodontal disease, the leading cause of tooth loss in adults, according to researchers.
With the help of gene therapy, the research team led by William Giannobile, professor at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry were able to find a way to help certain cells using an inactivated virus to produce more of a naturally-produced molecule soluble TNF receptor.
This factor is under-produced in patients with periodontitis.
The molecule delivered by gene therapy works like a sponge to sop up excessive levels of tumour necrosis factor, a molecule known to worsen inflammatory bone destruction in patients afflicted with rheumatoid arthritis, joint deterioration and periodontitis.
"Gene therapy has not been used in non-life threatening disease. (Periodontal disease) is more disabling than life threatening," said Giannobile.
"This is so important because the next wave of improving medical therapeutics goes beyond saving life, and moves forward to improving the quality of life," he added.
With the gene therapy, periodontal tissues were spared from destruction by more than 60-80 percent.
"If you deliver the gene into the target cells once, it keeps producing in the cells for a very long period of time or potentially for the life of the patient," Giannobile said.
"This therapy is basically a single administration, but it could have potentially life-long treatment effects in patients who are at risk for severe disease activity," he added.
The findings are published in Gene Therapy.