Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Tooth Decay to Be a Thing of the Past? Enzyme Responsible for Dental Plaque Sticking to Teeth Deciphered

The Groningen professors Bauke Dijkstra and Lubbert Dijkhuizen have deciphered the structure and functional mechanism of the glucansucrase enzyme that is responsible for dental plaque sticking to teeth. This knowledge will stimulate the identification of substances that inhibit the enzyme. Just add that substance to toothpaste, or even sweets, and caries will be a thing of the past.
Dijkhuizen points out that in future glucansucrase inhibitors may be added to toothpaste and mouthwash. 'But it may even be possible to add them to sweets', he suggests. 'An inhibitor might prevent that sugars released in the mouth cause damage.' However, Dijkhuizen doesn't expect that toothbrushes have had their day: 'it will always be necessary to clean your teeth.'

 A. Vujicic-Zagar, T. Pijning, S. Kralj, C. A. Lopez, W. Eeuwema, L. Dijkhuizen, B. W. Dijkstra. Crystal structure of a 117 kDa glucansucrase fragment provides insight into evolution and product specificity of GH70 enzymes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2010; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1007531107

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