(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Using viruses from Jerusalem’s sewage system, Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Dental Medicine researchers have developed an innovative treatment against dental bacteria that are resistant to growing numbers of antibiotics.
The team developed bacteriophage (“phages”) viruses to gobble up enterococcus bacteria that are resistant to a wide variety of antibiotics that is described by health authorities around the world as a major danger to health.
The resistant bacteria cause infections also in the heart, digestive system and root canals of teeth. The virus that was discovered is know to specifically “chase and hunt” the enterococcus in the dental canals where it destroys them. In addition, the virus also wipes out bacteria in biofilms in which they “barricade” themselves in many layers of bacteria and substances they produce that protect themselves from almost every treatment known to science.
The Jerusalem team is considered among the leaders in this field for curing dental diseases.
They included Prof. Nurit Beyth of the dental school and Dr. Ronen Hazan of the Hebrew University. Dental infections cause teeth and gums to be diseased and much suffering in patients.
Besides students that participated in the research team are also high school pupils from the Belmonte Labs on the Hebrew University’s Givat Ram campus. Called “phage fighters,” the pupils are included in the Belmonte’s Alpha Program to isolate and characterize phages against substances fighting food contaminants.
The team is supported by patents of the university’s Yissum Research and Development Company and Hadassah’s Hadasit Research and Development Company also participated using a grant from the Economy Ministry’s Chief Scientist’s Office. They assessed the treatment in animal models before clinical trials were conducted on humans.
“With the significant rise in recent years in resistant bacteria, new applied approaches are needed to deal with bacterial infections. In nature, there are all kinds of stores of phages that can cope with all kinds of difficult bacterial infections,” said Beyth.
“Therefore, we are not focusing only on dental bacteria but also looking at other options for the use of phages in treating and preventing many additional diseases.”