Researchers developing rapid test for periodontal disease

The link between periodontal disease and a range of systemic health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis is well established. Researchers from the University of Birmingham are in the process of developing a rapid test for identifying the presence of periodontal disease.

The device is being developed by Prof. Tim Albrecht from the University’s School of Chemistry, together with Dr Melissa Grant from the School of Dentistry. It consists of a specialised probe and detector that provides a measurement of certain protein-based biomarkers that indicate both the presence and progression of periodontal disease. This biomarker panel was discovered and validated in a study published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology by a team of researchers led by Dr Grant.

Prof. Albrecht said: “We believe the device we are prototyping will be the first dental probe that can identify periodontal disease in this way. It will detect periodontitis quickly and easily in a variety of healthcare settings, opening up opportunities for monitoring and early intervention in the patients with comorbid disease, who would benefit most from rapid treatment for periodontitis”.

Dr Grant added: “The ability to detect and profile disease biomarkers in real time will allow monitoring for disease severity, and in particular the transition between milder and more severe forms of gum disease. This will benefit not only dental health, but also reduce costs and capture patients for whom periodontal treatment may, in the long run, be lifesaving”.

The researchers recently received funding from UK Research and Innovation’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council impact acceleration account, and they plan to develop a prototype of this device within a year.