UltraSOuNd-controlled drug release from Antimicrobial particles for denTAl tissues (SONATA)

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Chemical Engineering


Dental caries is the breakdown of the hard dental tissues by the acid produced by bacteria in the mouth. It is recognised that many children and adults suffer unnecessary pain due to the destruction of the tooth and infection of the pulp (nerve). If not treated, then the tooth needs to ultimately be extracted. This non-communicable disease is entirely preventable. Eliminating the established oral biofilm that houses the bacteria that start this destructive process is however a challenge. Once bacteria break through the enamel of the tooth their passage to the pulp of the tooth is helped by the structure of dentine. This hard, dental tissue contains numerous microchannels (dentine tubules), which communicate from the external surface of the tooth to the internal pulp. The biofilm may be prevented by diet and use of fluoride toothpastes but once established is difficult to eradicate. Antibiotics are not very effective as there is no blood supply that enables them to reach the infected area and are therefore misused in the treatment of dental infections. A local treatment is proposed that allows for the rapid release of antibacterial agents at the site of infection.
In this research programme we aim to rapidly tackle biofilm infections with an interdisciplinary approach based on a novel particle platform for localised drug-delivery using ultrasound as an external-physical stimulus to trigger the release of an encapsulated antibacterial agent from inside the particles. We have assembled a multidisciplinary team with expertise in chemistry, dentistry and fluid mechanics to study the ultrasound triggered activation and delivery of the silica particles in endodontic model structures, biofilms and explanted teeth. To this end we will use existing dental instruments such as ultrasonic scalers in kHz frequencies which are commonly used in dental clinics. We will employ unique flow characterisation approaches to clarify the effects of ultrasound on particle motion, directing the particles to the biofilm, and on agent release. We have chosen to work with silica particles due to their biocompatibility and the wide applicability of silica materials in dentistry. We will use particle designs to control the entrapment of the antibacterial agent which can only be released upon application of the ultrasound trigger. The particles will be developed with luminescent properties to allow optical detection of their motion in flow and to monitor the antibacterial agent release in solution.
We aim to tackle problems in dental healthcare and to accelerate particle based therapies in dental practice through our impact activities. The proposed research will also provide revolutionary ways for antibiotic delivery in other areas of healthcare where localized treatment of infection is challenging (prosthetics, catheters).


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