Gm Bugs to Conquer Tooth Decay

07 July 2002
Posted by Chris Smith.

We told you on this programme 2 years ago how scientists were trying to genetically engineer bacteria that can stop tooth decay. Now a group of Swedish scientists have modified a harmless and common dairy bacterium, called Lactobacillus zeae, so that it produces antibodies against Streptococcus mutans; these are the bacteria that stick to teeth and churn out lactic acid that dissolves tooth enamel. Tests on rats have shown that a concoction of their GM Lactobacillus zeae once per week can dramatically reduce tooth decay. Don't hold your breath though - GM bacteria haven't been approved for use in humans yet, so this product might take a little time before it hits the supermarket shelves, although inventor Lennart Hammarstrom says that products like this will be the cheapest and best way to tackle cavities in the future. GM (genetically modified) strawberries and apples to combat tooth decay.

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