Dentistry and the latest trends in gene therapy and tissue engineering
Advancing technology gives rise to newer methods of healing. In the field of dentistry, the major development is taking place in methods of regenerating gum tissue. Gum tissue is vital in supporting teeth and holding them in place.
The latest development by Scientists at the University of Michigan, for regenerating gum tissue is a technique that uses gene delivery. This method of gene delivery looks safe and does not seem to pose any hazards for regenerating gum tissue that supports teeth. According to William Giannobile, a professor at the U-M School of Dentistry, there still remain many issues that revolve around concern for safety of the patient undergoing gene therapy, though this form of therapy is accepted widely as a method of treatment and healing.
This concern for safety was highlighted in the early stages of its development a number of years ago, when a teenager undergoing gene therapy died after the administration of adenovirus during a gene therapy clinical trial at the University of Pennsylvania.
Gene therapy versus U-M therapy
When he compared gene therapy to U-M therapy, Professor Giannobile said that both therapies use adenovirus but in U-M therapy, the dosage is much lower and treatment is in the form of a local application, quite like a paste which is applied directly on the tissue during surgery; as opposed to gene therapy where the genes are injected directly in the blood vessels which allows adenovirus to travel in the blood stream and this may at times result in unexpected developments which can sometimes be fatal. The U-M method is more of a topical method where the adenovirus is controlled in the localised area and is not allowed to spread throughout the body. This approach lessens concerns of saftey and about negative reactions that may occur within the body.
Professor Giannobile, who has an appointment at the U-M College of Engineering’s Department of Biomedical Engineering and also directs the Michigan Center for Oral Health Research, explained that the teenager died, as the adenovirus got into his bloodstream and he reacted adversely to it. It was tragic.
He said that in the first study of periodontal disease therapy, it was demonstrated the that distribution of these genes was very safe. He also said that it could be used in the clinic for clinical application. He said that their study does not address all the safety concerns, but that safety was surely a very important concern to the field. (The success of using this treatment will surely depend on its safety factor.) The U-M method of treatment shows great potential in clinical treatment of Periodontal disease and diabetic wounds. He pointed out that that this could be due to the fact that both these diseases are a result of a “defective healing environment.”
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