NYU Dentistry Awarded NIDCR Funding to Continue Development of Gel to Treat Periodontal Disease

Xin Li, PhD and Dr. Saxena

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) has awarded a grant to researchers at NYU College of Dentistry to continue their development of a topical gel to treat periodontal disease and prevent related bone loss. The grant (R42DE028212) provides approximately $1.6 million over two years to support and builds on the researchers’ Phase I study to develop the gel.

Periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gums and supporting structures of the teeth that can gradually destroy the bones that support the teeth. Current treatment options for periodontal diseases are limited and can be inconvenient, painful, or carry side effects. For instance, local or systemic antibiotics disrupt the microbiome by killing both good and bad bacteria, may contribute to antibiotic resistance, and do not target bone loss.

“There is a significant void in treatment options for periodontal disease which can target host response and are easy to use,” said Xin Li, PhD, professor of molecular pathobiology at NYU Dentistry and co-founder of Periomics Care.

To address the need for more targeted treatments for periodontal disease, the researchers have been developing a topical gel that targets the receptor for a metabolic byproduct called succinate. A new study in Cell Reports focused on their Phase I study describes how blocking the succinate receptor reduces the hallmarks of periodontal disease—inflammation, bacterial dysbiosis, and bone loss—and demonstrates how their gel successfully treated gum disease in mouse models.

In the Phase II study funded by NIDCR, the researchers will further test the efficacy of the gel in animal models to find the appropriate dosage and timing for application, as well as determine any toxicity. The outcomes from this study will help the researchers to seek FDA approval for the optimal formulation and to conduct clinical trials for the treatment and prevention of periodontal disease.

“We ultimately seek to develop a gel and convenient oral strip that people with or at risk for periodontal disease can use at home, as well as a stronger, slow-release formulation that dentists can apply in the office,” said Deepak Saxena, PhD, professor of molecular pathobiology at NYU Dentistry and co-founder of Periomics Care.

The grant, which began September 15, 2022, provides funds to start-up company Periomics Care through the federal government’s Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program. Periomics Care is an early-stage biotechnology company created by Drs. Li and Saxena within NYU Dentistry to develop and commercialize products to treat periodontal disease.