Antibiotic rods designed to "stick it" to gum disease
Gum disease is a very common condition, and it's usually caused by bacteria. Although orally-administered antibiotics are typically used to treat severe cases, a new treatment could be much more effective – with fewer side effects.
The problem with taking antibiotic pills for gum disease (aka periodontal disease) lies in the fact that the medication gets carried throughout the body, instead of being concentrated at the site of the infection. This means that relatively large doses are required, potentially causing side effects to be more severe.
With this problem in mind, scientists at Germany's Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (working with colleagues at two of the Fraunhofer research institutes) have developed flexible polymer rods that are inserted in a patient's gingival pocket – this is the space that develops between a tooth and the gum tissue, when that tissue is inflamed.
The biodegradable rods are loaded with an antibiotic known as minocycline, contained within a carrier material called magnesium stearate. Once inserted, the medication is gradually released directly into the affected area, as the rod gets harmlessly broken down by the body. In in vitro tests performed so far, the treatment has reportedly been considerably more effective than traditional approaches.
Because both the antibiotic and the polymer are already approved and available for medical use, large-scale production of the rods should soon be possible. The technology is being developed by Fraunhofer spinoff company PerioTrap Pharmaceuticals, and could be on the market within a few years.
The research is described in a paper that was recently published in the International Journal of Pharmaceutics.