Common diabetes drug could treat gum disease and help with healthy aging, study claims

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A team of researchers at King's College London has discovered a new way to use common diabetes drugs to control inflammation and blood sugar levels to prevent oral and systemic disease.

In their latest Journal of Translational MedicineA team of researchers from the School of Dentistry, Oral and Craniofacial Sciences has discovered a new way to halt periodontal (gum) disease and potentially reduce the incidence of diabetes and obesity. The new approach focuses on using the common type 2 diabetes drug metformin to control inflammation and blood sugar levels in the mouth and body.

Periodontal (gum) disease is very common worldwide and is closely associated with systemic diseases such as diabetes and obesity. Lifestyle choices, such as increased sugar intake, are common causes of gum disease, as well as diabetes and obesity. Diabetes, obesity and gum disease all occur throughout our lives, but gum disease is likely to be discovered first, as it can develop as early as age 30.

The only current treatment strategies for gum disease are deep cleaning of the teeth to remove oral bacteria and the administration of antibiotics. However, this treatment does not prevent the persistence and progression of systemic related diseases such as diabetes and obesity.

Metformin, a drug that regulates glucose metabolism, is a drug commonly used to treat diabetes but is not usually used in dentistry. Researchers found that metformin significantly prevented bone loss during induced periodontal disease and age-related bone loss in vivo (in living mice). The research team tested the drug in the first clinical trial in people with gum disease who do not have diabetes. The trial showed improved clinical effectiveness of gum disease treatment and control of blood sugar levels and inflammation in the mouth and body, even when bacteria levels were higher.

Using this new method of preventing gum disease can also help control weight gain and blood sugar levels and may prove to be a new solution in preventing systemic and oral disease. Metformin is a cheap drug in the UK and around the world, selling at market prices of £0.04 per tablet. The researchers say the treatment would be even cheaper to administer if provided by the NHS.

Lead author Dr Vitor Neves, academic clinical lecturer and periodontal registrar, said: “Our patients often don’t have any tools to fight gum disease other than brushing, but for the first time we have a potential tool that can not only help patients Has gum disease but overall healthy.

“Metformin is readily available and cheap around the world, so the drug could be used as a preventive drug for oral and systemic diseases and could be adopted globally. This would help many people age healthier – everything Start by caring for their mouths.

More information:
Vitor CM Neves et al., Repurposing metformin in periodontal disease management as a form of oral systemic preventive medicine, Journal of Translational Medicine (2023). DOI: 10.1186/s12967-023-04456-1

Journal information:
Journal of Translational Medicine

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