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Infectious Diseases and Immunity


Research relating to the etiology, pathogenesis, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases of the oral cavity is supported by the NIDCR. This includes research on practical ways to effectively use the host immune system to prevent or treat oral infectious diseases and microbial-induced inflammation. Infectious diseases of the oral cavity include caries, periodontitis, candidiasis, peri-implantitis, pulpitis, and various viral, bacterial, and fungal infections of the oral mucosa and research on the diagnosis and prevention of oral manifestations and malignancies of HIV infection and AIDS. Specific examples of technology development needs include but are not limited to:

A. Develop ways to overcome or eliminate the risk of oral infections in persons who smoke or chew tobacco, drink alcohol, or are immunosuppressed, have diabetes, are malnourished, or are psychologically stressed.

B. Explore novel methods or agents to eradicate oral biofilms (dental plaque) on teeth, oral soft tissues, and dental implants without adversely effecting the normal oral flora.

C. Isolate, synthesize or prepare new antibiotics and antimicrobial agents that can overcome bacterial and fungal resistance to current compounds. Formulate combinatorial drug regimens to attack microbes growing in oral biofilms (dental plaque).

D. Develop controlled release systems for local delivery of synthetic peptides, recombinant proteins, or other chemical or immunotherapeutic agents to prevent, control, and/or treat oral infectious diseases, or the oral manifestations of HIV infection.

E. Develop biological response modifiers or other immunological approaches to reduce or eliminate microbial-induced chronic inflammation or the tissue destruction associated with chronic inflammation in the oral cavity.

F. Develop ways to interfere with microbial colonization and growth through the use of antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy.

G. Identify and exploit the structural features of oral biofilms for increased therapeutics delivery.

H. Develop computer programs to model biologically active peptide regions of oral components that have anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral activities. Challenges appropriate for small business applications could include:

I. Develop substitutes of naturally occurring chemicals (phytochemicals) known to have a role in controlling opportunistic infections induced by HIV.

J. Develop synthetic peptides and recombinant proteins of oral components with anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral activities including those against HIV.

K. Develop oral topical formulations with combined microbicidal, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory activities to enhance oral mucosal defenses and prevent and/or control oral infections and lesions in HIV-infected and/or immunosuppressed subjects.

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