A new polymer membrane for periodontal disease therapy

A concept image of periodontal disease to illustrate what the new polymer membrane could be used to treat.
© iStock/TefiM

Researchers from UCLA have developed methods using a new polymer membrane for a potentially more effective periodontal disease therapy.

The research may lead to move effective and reliable therapy for periodontal disease which promotes gum tissue and bone regeneration with biological and mechanical features, that an also be adjusted based on the treatment needs of the patient.

Periodontal disease

Periodontitis, periodontal disease in its worst form, affects nearly half of Americans aged 30 and older. In its advanced stages it could lead to early tooth loss. Recent studies have also shown that it could increase the risk of heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

Why a new class of membranes is needed

Alireza Moshaverinia, lead author of the study and assistant professor of prosthodontics at the UCLA School of Dentistry, commented: “Given the current disadvantages with guided tissue regeneration, we saw the need to develop a new class of membranes, which have tissue and bone regeneration properties along with a flexible coating that can adhere to a range of biological surfaces. We’ve also figured out a way to prolong the drug delivery timeline, which is key for effective wound healing.”

The new polymer membrane

The team used an FDA-approved polymer, a large scale synthetic molecule which is commonly used in biomedical applications, but because the surface of the polymer is not suitable for cell adhesion in the treatment of periodontal disease, the researchers used a polydopamine coating.

The polydopamine coating is a polymer that has excellent adhesive properties. It can be attached to surfaces even in wet conditions. It also speeds up bone regeneration by promoting the mineralisation of hydroxyapatite, the mineral which makes up tooth enamel and bone.

The co-lead author Paul Weiss, who is also UC presidential chair and distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry, bioengineering, and materials science and engineering at UCLA, explained: “By creating a micro pattern on the surface of the membrane, we are now able to localize cell adhesion and to manipulate the membrane’s structure. We were able to mimic the complex structure of periodontal tissue and, when placed, our membrane complements the correct biological function on each side.”

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