According to researchers at the US National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, an antimicrobial treatment that is programmed to search out and destroy cavity-causing bacteria  may be used to fight cavities and bad breath.

The experimental treatment is called specifically targeted antimicrobial peptide (STAMP). It has a two-sided structure. On one side is the short homing sequence of a pheromone, a signaling chemical that tells the STAMP what kind of bacteria to seek and destroy. The second side of the structure is a small antimicrobial “bomb” that kills the targeted bacteria.

In initial laboratory tests, the first-generation STAMPs proved effective. They eliminated the cavity-causing oral bacterium Streptococcus mutans within 30 seconds, without causing any harm to nearby harmless types of bacteria.

“We’ve already moved the S. mutans STAMP into human studies, where it can be applied as part of a paste or mouth rinse,” says Wenyuan Shi, PhD, a scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Dentistry. “We’re also developing other dental STAMPs that target the specific oral microbes involved in periodontal disease and possibly even halitosis (bad breath). Thereafter, we hope to pursue possible medical applications of this technology.”

[HealthCentral, October 23, 2006]