Case Study

New applications for dental peptides

Date: December 9, 2018

When Professor Jennifer Kirkham and Dr Amalia Aggeli began looking at self-assembling peptides for use in dentistry, their idea was to create a mouthwash that would infiltrate the peptides into decay lesions in the teeth, where they could start to repair the damage.

2018 will see such a mouthwash launched in the UK, just one of many products on the market that contain the self-assembling peptides – today termed Curolox® Technology – from gels for use in the clinic to toothpastes and dental chews.

Professor Kirkham said: “It’s come such a long way from that early research at the University of Leeds, which developed and characterised the self-assembling peptide, ensuring it would behave as expected on the tooth and in early clinical trials. All the products now on the market are rooted in that initial work.”

The self-assembling peptide P11-4 is the central component of Curolox Technology. It creates a 3D biomatrix that supports the regeneration of tooth enamel, enabling a natural repair to caries lesions, without the need for more invasive procedures. Developed with support from the IKC, the technology is licensed to the Swiss company, Credentis AG, who have formulated and developed it for diverse dental applications and brought it to an international market.

The technology can also reduce tooth sensitivity by blocking pores in the root dentine, filling them with mineral crystals, or create a protective layer over the teeth, to prevent further damage to the enamel.

Credentis has pioneered all of these uses in its Curolox Technology products, Curodont Repair, Curodont D’Senz and Curodont Protect, with the former due to be launched in the UK this year.

Already one of the IKC’s major successes, the story doesn’t end there. The IKC has supported further work to identify other selfassembling peptides with similar regenerative potential. The IKC is also co-funding research, with Credentis, to look at the use of selfassembling peptides in repairing the damage caused by gum disease.

“It’s a natural progression for the technology,” said Credentis CEO and founder, Dr Dominik Lysek. “From a scientific perspective, the peptide has been shown to work on bone and tooth, and both are involved in gum disease. And from the business side, there is only one competitor product on the market and Curolox Technology has the advantage of being fully synthetic.”

The area around the tooth where it emerges through the gumline and into the mouth creates a natural ‘pocket’ (the gingival crevice) that can accumulate bacteria leading to chronic inflammation and eventual tissue destruction.

The new research aims to combine the 3D biomatrix with a slow-release anti-microbial agent, which can help to combat the early stages of inflammation, enabling repair of the tooth-supporting structures and preventing further damage. The self-assembling peptide, in gel form, would be injected into the gingival crevice enabling infection to be treated locally rather than systemically.

Dr Phil Davies and Professor Deirdre Devine from the  University of Leeds are investigating the release kinetics of the anti-microbial agent with different self-assembling peptides, to see which combination works best. This will then be tested in the lab against a microbial biofilm, similar to that forming in the mouth, including the key pathogens present in periodontal disease.

Dr Davies said: “We know from early tests that the peptides can help repair periodontal tissue, but these were done in the absence of infection. We now need to fine tune the combination with the anti-microbial, to enable the minimum concentration to be used.”

The ethos of the strapline for the original research – filling without drilling – holds true for this latest project as well, whose aim is to create an effective, but minimally invasive and painless treatment.

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