Gum Disease

Published on June 1st, 2014 | by

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Preventing gum disease before it starts

By Katherine Unger Baillie

When the population of bacteria in our mouths gets out of whack, inflammation and bone loss can ensue—a disease of the gums called periodontitis. Nearly half of American adults have this condition, which, when severe, can lead to systemic illnesses like heart disease and diabetes.

A collaboration among researchers from the School of Dental Medicine and the Perelman School of Medicine may hold out some hope for a promising treatment, resulting in a new target for preventing and possibly reversing periodontitis: a molecule that makes up a part of our own immune arsenals called complement.

The Penn team was led by George Hajishengalli, a professor in Penn Dental’s Department of Microbiology, and John Lambris, the Dr. Ralph and Sallie Weaver Professor Research Medicine in Penn Medicine’s Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.

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