Got cavities? Then maybe you need some STAMPs, that’s specifically targeted antimicrobial peptides. Effectively, these are peptides on the scale of 25 amino acids that track down and kill specific bacteria.
The first-generation STAMPs also proved extremely effective in the initial laboratory work. As reported in this month’s paper, the scientists found they could eliminate the cavity-associated oral bacterium Steptococcus mutans within 30 seconds from an oral biofilm without any collateral damage to related but non pathogenic species attached nearby. Biofilms are complex, multi-layered microbial communities that routinely form on our teeth and organs throughout the body. According to one estimate, biofilms may be involved to varying degrees in up to 80 percent of human infections.
“We’ve already moved the S. mutans STAMP into human studies, where it can be applied as part of a paste or mouthrinse,” said Dr. Wenyuan Shi, senior author on the paper and a scientist at the University of California at Los Angeles School of Dentistry. “We’re also developing other dental STAMPs that target the specific oral microbes involved in periodontal disease and possibly even halitosis. Thereafter, we hope to pursue possible medical applications of this technology.”
The NIH has the rest of the press release, with a lot more of the story of the development process.