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Columbia research to examine gene influence on severity of peridontal disease, therapy response

NEW YORK, NY, September 9, 2004 Scientists at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) are looking into the genetic reasons why individuals experience periodontal disease so differently, and why some respond to treatment more successfully than others. Even with treatment, some patients continue to see deterioration of gum condition and eventual loss of teeth.

The research is part of an effort at CUMC to eradicate periodontitis in these patients and better understand how the gum disease develops, and will allow the development of pharmacologic therapies targeted specifically to a person's own genetic predisposition for response.

A new three-year, $1.8 million grant from the National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research will support research to determine whether different forms of periodontitis can be classified based on gene expression in inflamed gums.

Periodontitis occurs when infection of the gums goes untreated and inflammation spreads to ligaments and bone that support the teeth. The disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.

Currently, periodontitis is classified into two groups chronic and aggressive that are categorized based on clinical signs after consideration of medical and oral health history. However, distinguishing these two disease categories can be difficult because the clinical signs of both can be quite similar, while response to standard therapeutic procedures may vary considerably. Both types of disease are characterized by swollen gums and deep periodontal pockets. Therapy usually consists of cleaning of the periodontal pockets and root surfaces, accompanied by gum surgery and adjunctive antibiotics.

"The current system for classifying periodontal disease does not have a solid, pathobiology-based foundation," said Panos N. Papapanou, D.D.S., Ph.D., the principal investigator on the project, who is also professor and chair of the Section of Oral and Diagnostic Sciences and dire
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Contact: Craig LeMoult
cel2113@columbia.edu
212-305-0820
Columbia University Medical Center
10-Sep-2004


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