The oral bacterium Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans is more than just the ultimate Scrabble word, it’s also a major concern to your Castle Rock dentist and our patients at Glow Comprehensive Dentistry. The bacterium is commonly linked with the development of periodontal disease and other forms of both non-oral and oral infections.
Periodontal disease is a severe form of gum disease and the primary cause for adult tooth loss. Research has found that individuals suffering from periodontal disease have a higher risk of developing a range of chronic health conditions that include heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and arthritis.
But like many things in nature, what can cause harm can also become a source for good.
Recently, a researcher from Rutgers University was presented with a $4 million grant to develop a cancer fighting drug from the bacterium.
A New Way to Fight Disease
An oral biology professor at Rutgers School of Dental Medicine, Dr. Scott Kachlany discovered that Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans can create a protein that actually kills leukemia cells. The protein can also be used to treat autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and Crohn’s disease.
The protein has shown the potential for destroying diseased white blood cells that are responsible for killing off healthy cells in the body. There’s even hope that the same protein could possibly become a treatment option for HIV infections.
The proteins ability to target and treat a variety of potential illnesses make the potential for this research incredibly exciting. So far, the therapy, named Leukothera, has performed well in animal toxicity testing.
“Even at very high doses of the drug, there are no side effects,” reports Dr. Kachlany, who hopes that human trials in the near future will echo the same encouraging results.
The research was funded by Kairos Ventures, a business that awards funding to researchers to advance scientific ideas. Dr. Kachlany plans to use the initial funding to perform preclinical development before the drug’s next phase of testing.
“Their financial assistance with be vital for the advancement of Leukothera, Actinobac’s primary drug candidate into human clinical trials and thereby allow it to eventually become available to treat patients suffering from hematological malignancies such as leukemia and lymphoma.”
Dr. Kachlany hopes to receive additional funding from the National Institutes of Health to fund a human clinical trial for Leukothera. Within the next three years, Dr. Kachlany hopes to begin testing the effects of Leukothera in human patients suffering from leukemia and lymphoma.
“This can have major implications for the treatment of blood cancer patients,” says Dr. Kachlany.
A Time to Act
Roughly every 3 minutes in the U.S., a patient will receive a blood cancer diagnosis, according to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
In 2017 alone, over 172,000 patients in the U.S. are expected to receive a diagnoses for either myeloma, lymphoma, or leukemia.
Cases of these types of cancers are predicted to account for roughly 10 percent of all cancer diagnoses in the U.S. in 2017.
Survival rates for myeloma, lymphoma, and leukemia have been on the rise over the last 50 years. However, myeloma, lymphoma, and leukemia will still account for an estimated 58,000 deaths in the U.S. in 2017.
Your Castle Rock dentist finds this potential new treatment incredibly promising, and hopes that researchers can find a way to transform harmful oral bacteria into a source of healing for patients everywhere.