Restorative dentistry is a large market and area of clinical need with tooth loss, dental caries and oral cancer being major drivers of the need for replacement tissues. Procedures such as gingival grafting, root coverage and removal of oral cancer typically require tissue to be taken from another (donor) site in the mouth and transplanted into the repair area. Subsequent bacterial infection is a frequent complication and a major cause of graft loss and surgical re-work.
Our aim is to deliver an antimicrobial agent at the surgical site via a novel resorbable tissue scaffold into which the agent is incorporated. Proof-of-concept work has shown that we are able to synthesise tissue scaffolds incorporating an antimicrobial agent, and that these scaffolds support the growth of human dental pulp stem cells. The antimicrobial agent is released progressively over time, which causes bacterial death on activation at doses harmless to the human cells.
This technology has considerable potential for improving tissue regeneration strategies by preventing or reducing the infective burden on newly-forming tissues. Compared to other approaches we anticipate it to offer the following benefits:
- Highly efficacious one- or two-stage treatment allowing cost and time savings for health systems globally
- Infection resistance for regenerative materials, devices and procedures
- Reduced need for the use of antibiotics
- Improved cosmetic outcome and improvement in patient quality of life
- Prolonged and improved construct survival reducing the need for revision surgery
Although our current focus is on periodontology and oral biology, the technology combining the regenerative benefits of a tissue repair scaffold with delivery of antimicrobial agent would have application in wound management, sports medicine, plastic and reconstructive surgery and in other surgical specialties where there is a known risk of loss of implanted or repaired tissue to infection.