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Interleukin Genetics, U of Michigan Team Up to Study Periodontal Disease Markers

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Interleukin Genetics and the University of Michigan have reached an agreement on a clinical study to evaluate risk factors that are predictive of periodontal disease leading to tooth loss.

The study, which will include 4,000 patients, will use a new version of Interleukin's PST genetic test, which identifies individuals who have an increased risk for severe and progressive periodontal disease and significant tooth loss. The test identifies polymorphisms in genes that regulate the production of interleukin cytokines. High levels of such proteins have been associated with soft tissue and bone destruction, and in certain populations, an increased severity of periodontitis.

Renaissance Health Service, a non-profit organization, is providing funding for the study. Other terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The study will use a large dental claims database and will be led by William Giannobile, director of the Michigan Center for Oral Health Research at the university's School of Dentistry. The 4,000 patients being chosen for the study have more than 15 consecutive years of documented oral health history. Information on periodontitis risk factors and genetic information will be collected to assess the frequency of preventive visits "that is consistent with maintenance of proper periodontal health in patients classified as either low-risk or high-risk for periodontitis progression," Interleukin and UM said in a statement.

The study is expected to start in the fall and last about a year and will determine whether patients can be stratified using clinical biomarkers to guide dental services required in order to prevent the progression of periodontitis.

According to Interleukin and UM, about 75 percent of American adults have some form of periodontal disease, and about one-quarter have moderate to severe periodontitis, which if undiagnosed and untreated can lead to the loss of teeth and major aesthetic changes. Studies have suggested that severe periodontal disease is associated with increased risk for heart attack, stroke, and low birth-weight babies.

Studies also indicate that genetics play a part in differences in the severity of periodontal disease among patients, the partners added.

"With research suggesting that individuals with severe periodontal disease are at risk for other chronic disease complications, we have a unique opportunity to leverage genetic science to provide an integrated approach to early detection, prevention, and management of oral health," Kenneth Kornman, president and chief scientific officer of Interleukin Genetics, said.

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