“Researchers from the University of Louisville School of Dentistry, USA, were recently awarded a $1.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study whether an anti-HIV drug could also be used to control periodontal diseases. The study of the drug, AMD3100, led by Professor George Hajishengallis from the school’s Centre for Oral Health and Systemic Disease, will investigate the interactions between receptors, white blood cells and P. gingivalis bacteria. He spoke to Dental Learning Hub about the next steps in the research and what impact it could have on periodontal treatment in the future.

Question: Briefly explain how this research came about.

GH: Things started quite unexpectedly: We knew from our previous research that macrophages recognize and respond to the presence of P. gingivalis through a receptor, known as Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2). As Toll-like receptors do not work alone, we tried to identify receptors that cooperate with TLR2. For example, we identified a receptor known as CD14, whose job is to facilitate TLR2 recognition of P. gingivalis and enhance the ability of the cell to kill this oral pathogen. In the same receptor complex, we surprisingly identified the presence of another receptor known as CXCR4.”

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