NYU Dentistry Awarded NIDCR Grant to Develop Novel Oral Strip and Gel to Prevent Periodontal Bone Loss


The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), part of the National Institutes of Health, has awarded a grant to researchers at New York University College of Dentistry (NYU Dentistry) to develop an oral strip and gel to treat periodontal disease and prevent bone loss in people with type 2 diabetes.

The one-year grant (R41DE028212), which began August 1, 2019, provides $224,000 to NYU Dentistry start-up company Periomics Care, LLC, through the federal government’s Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program.

Periodontitis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the gums and supporting structures of the teeth that can gradually destroy the bones that support the teeth. Nearly half (47.2 percent) of U.S. adults 30 and older and more than 70 percent of adults 65 and older have periodontitis. Periodontitis is particularly prevalent in people with diabetes, who are five time more likely to have the disease.

Current treatment options for periodontitis are invasive, painful, and not always successful. Patients with periodontitis typically undergo scaling and root planing—a deep cleaning below the gumline in pockets formed by the disease—followed by antimicrobial or antibiotic treatment, either given as pills or locally in a small chip inserted into pockets. More severe cases require surgical treatment.

"Current antimicrobial and antibiotic treatments do not target periodontal bone loss," said Xin Li, PhD, associate professor of basic science and craniofacial biology at NYU Dentistry and co-founder of Periomics Care.

"There is a major void in therapeutic products for periodontal disease that target the underlying mechanism of disease—and are easy for dentists and patients to use," said Angela Kamer, DMD, PhD, associate professor of periodontology and implant dentistry at NYU College of Dentistry and a consultant on the project.

The researchers are working to develop a sustained-release oral strip and gel formulation to target succinate receptor (SucnR1). A study by Yuqi Guo, MD, a researcher in Dr. Li's lab, published in 2017 in Nature Communications, found that a metabolite called succinate is elevated in people with diabetes and activates SucnR1. The study demonstrated that blocking SucnR1 activation controls inflammation and periodontal bone loss, suggesting that SucnR1 would be a useful target for developing therapies to prevent periodontal bone loss.

The oral strip and gel formulation will use biodegradable material filled with SucrR1 antagonist, a method protected by a provisional U.S. patent. The strip would be implanted by a dentist, while consumers would apply the topical gel to their gums.

"The development of a biodegradable oral strip or gel formulation that could be administered through less invasive approaches to augment or replace conventional treatment could prove to be a major step forward in the treatment of periodontal disease," said Deepak Saxena, PhD, professor of basic science and craniofacial biology at NYU Dentistry and director of Periomics Care.

Periomics Care is an early-stage biotechnology company co-founded by Drs. Li and Saxena within NYU Dentistry that was established to develop and commercialize products to treat periodontal disease in people with type 2 diabetes. The STTR grant will fund Phase I research to develop and optimize the formulation and determine its efficacy in periodontal animal models. The outcomes from this research will help move the optimal formulation into Phase II studies in humans to prevent and treat periodontal disease and related bone loss.