Health World

Scale-eating bacteria

Hidenobu Senpuku, a biologist at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Tokyo, discovered an enzyme called Frua, synthesized by the bacterium Streptococcus salivarius, was very effective against plaque formation on tooth enamel.

The bacteria and enzymes are naturally present in our mouths, but their concentration is not always sufficient to counter other bacteria such as Streptococcus mutans, the cause of the formation of plaque. The Japanese researcher believes that adding small amounts of toothpaste to Frua could increase its force of action.

The superdentifrice limits and will not allow those who use it to eat sweets with impunity, Hidenobu Senpuku warns. During his experiments, he found that when the sugar in the mouth exceeds a certain threshold, the bacteria and enzyme lost all their means.

Mary Ellen Davey, a microbiologist at the Forsyth Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, agrees that the findings could spur the development of better toothpaste. However, she says that will not be an easy task. Finding “the formulation that would ‘guarantee’ that the enzyme remained enzymatically active on the shelf of your favorite drug store is a big challenge,” she says. Mary Ellen Davey, a microbiologist at the Forsyth Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, agrees that the findings could spur the development of better toothpaste. But she says that won’t be an easy task. Finding “the formulation that would ‘guarantee’ that the enzyme remained enzymatically active on the shelf of your favorite drug store is a big challenge,” she says.

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