Caries vaccine

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Caries vaccine

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The caries vaccine is a bacterial vaccine, currently under development, to prevent and protect against tooth decay.[1]

Streptococcus mutans has been identified as the major etiological agent of human dental caries.

Several types of vaccines are being developed at research centers.

Development of a vaccine has been under investigation for more than 30 years: already in 1972 a caries vaccine was said to be in animal testing in England, and that it would have begun human testing soon. In fact such vaccines have not managed to come out of the laboratories so far, maybe also because of absence of economic convenience for the pharmaceutical companies.

The corporation Planet Biotechnology has developed an antibody against S. mutans which it produces using transgenic tobacco plants. This product may be considered a therapeutic vaccine, and is in clinical trials as of May 2006.[2]

Genetically-modified S. mutans

Along a similar line of research, Dr. Jeffrey D. Hillman has developed a genetically-modified strain of Streptococcus mutans, the bacterium that causes tooth decay by converting sugar into lactic acid, which dissolves tooth enamel. The new strain, called BCS3-L1, is incapable of producing lactic acid. In laboratory tests, rats who were given BCS3-L1 were conferred with a lifetime of protection against S. mutans[3]. BCS3-L1 colonizes the mouth and produces a small amount of a lantibiotic, called MU1140[3], which allows it to out-compete S. mutans.[4]

Hillman suggests that treatment with BCS3-L1 in humans could also provide a lifetime of protection, or, at worst, require occasional re-applications. He figures the treatment would be available in dentists' offices and "will probably cost less than $100."[5] FDA Phase I clinical trials are on hold, but are expected to start late in 2007.[6]


  1. Panel on Caries Vaccine. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research of the National Institute of Health, January 28, 2003. Page accessed August 18, 2006.
  2. "Planet Biotechnology:Products". Planet Biotechnology. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Replacement Theraphy." Oragenics. Retrieved on August 17, 2007.
  4. Hillman, JD. Genetically modified Streptococcus mutans for the prevention of dental caries. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek 2002;82:361-366.
  5. "Genetically modified bacteria may prevent caries". HealthMantra. Retrieved 2006-12-18. 
  6. "Oragenics Receives Clinical Hold Letter from FDA." Oragenics. Retrieved on August 17, 2007.