A breakthrough might be imminent in the medical field as researchers from the University of Alabama, Birmingham, have created a small molecule that prevents dental cavity.


Although the research is in its preclinical stage, as it has not been tested on humans, the researchers are optimistic about its potentials.

“Our compound is drug-like, non-bactericidal and easy to synthesize, and it exhibits very potent efficacy in vivo, It is an excellent candidate that can be developed into therapeutic drugs that prevent and treat dental caries,” the researchers explained in an article in Scientific Reports.

How it works

Tooth decay or dental cavity occurs when streptococcus(S) mutans makes a glucan biofilm called glucosyltransferase (GtfC).


Researchers used the structure of GtfC to screen — via computer simulations — 500,000 drug-like compounds for binding at the enzyme’s active site.

The molecule #G43 inhibited the activity of enzymes GtfB and GtfC, with micromolar affinity for GtfB and nanomolar affinity for GtfC.

In its(#G43) presence, S. mutans was unable to make the protective and sticky biofilm that allows it to glue to the tooth surface, where it eats away tooth enamel by producing lactic acid.


“If we have something that can selectively take away the bacteria’s ability to form biofilms, that would be a tremendous advance,” said Sadanandan Velu, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences, and a lead researcher in the study.

Hui Wu, professor of pediatric dentistry, UAB school of dentistry, who was a lead investigator in the study, said: “This is particularly exciting in the broad sense of targeting microbiota using chemical probes tailored to the specific pathogen within a complex microbial community.

“Successful development of this selective lead inhibitor in the dental setting offers a proof of concept that selective targeting of keystone bacteria is promising for the design of new treatments. This is relevant for many elusive human diseases as the microbiome is being linked to overall health and disease.”


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