Study: Natural plant chemicals combat tooth decay

A University of Edinburgh study indicated that oral care products containing a natural chemical, trans-chalcone, could help prevent decay. The trans-chalcone compound is related to chemicals found in liquorice root. The study shows that the natural plant product blocks the action of a key enzyme that allows Streptococcus mutans to thrive.

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A University of Edinburgh study indicated that oral care products containing a natural chemical, trans-chalcone, could help prevent decay.

The trans-chalcone compound is related to chemicals found in liquorice root. The study shows that the natural plant product blocks the action of a key enzyme that allows Streptococcus mutans to thrive.

Researchers found that blocking the activity of the enzyme prevents bacteria forming a protective biological layer, biofilm. Preventing the assembly of these protective layers would help stop bacteria forming plaque, the University of Edinburgh researchers said.

The study is the first to show how trans-chalcone prevents bacteria forming biofilms.

The team worked out the 3D structure of the enzyme—called Sortase A–which allows the bacteria to make biofilms. By doing this, researchers were able to identify how trans-chalcone prevents the enzyme from functioning.

The study, published in the journal Chemical Communications, was supported by Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company and the University of Edinburgh.

Dr Dominic Campopiano, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Chemistry, who led the study, said: “We were delighted to observe that trans-chalcone inhibited Sortase A in a test tube and stopped Streptococcus mutans biofilm formation. We are expanding our study to include similar natural products and investigate if they can be incorporated into consumer products. This exciting discovery highlights the potential of this class of natural products in food and healthcare technologies.”

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