Study Finds that Fluoride Reduces Adhesion of Bacteria on Teeth

Despite more than fifty years of scientific research, controversy still exists over exactly how fluoride compounds reduce the risk of tooth decay. New evidence from German researchers suggests that fluoride helps to reduce the adhesion of bacteria to teeth. The study is published in the American Chemical Society (ACS) journal Langumir [1].

Brushing teeth

Good Bacteria Associated with Acne-free Skin

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Washington University in St. Louis and the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute have discovered that acne bacteria, which thrive in the oily pores of skin, consist of “bad” strains associated with pimples and “good” strains that may protect the skin and keep it healthy. The finding may help dermatologists develop new, strain-specific treatments for acne. The research is published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

Acne bacteria

Mad Cow Risk and Reasonable Precautions

A case of so-called “mad cow disease” was found in a California dairy cow last week. The disease, known to veterinary scientists as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), is fatal, and can be transmitted from cow-to-cow or cow-to-human through the ingestion of contaminated tissue. There is no evidence BSE spreads to humans — the human form of the disorder is called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease — through drinking milk. As such, authorities claim that the infected animal (which is being held and will be destroyed) posed no risk to humans.

Dairy cows

Chewing Gum Reduces Risk of Ear Infection in Children

Xylitol, or birch sugar, is a sugar naturally found in plums, strawberries, raspberries, and rowan berries. It is often used to sweeten toothpaste and chewing gum since it is as sweet as sucrose but does not cause tooth decay; this is because it cannot be fermented by bacteria that live in our mouths, and instead inhibits their growth. As the key step causing acute ear infections is the colonization of the middle ear by bacteria that move there from the mouth, researchers have hypothesized that xylitol might help prevent acute ear infections as well as tooth decay.

Researchers at the University of Toronto recently performed a meta-analysis of three Finnish studies and found that children who chewed gum — or took other products laden with xylitol, including lozenges or syrup — had about a 25% lower risk of developing an ear infection compared to controls. The study is published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews [1].

Child ear examination

Activation of the Immune System and the Nobel Prize for Medicine

nobel medal in medicineThe 2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was announced on Monday. The prize was awarded to three scientists for their work on the body’s immune system.

The prize of 10-million-Swedish-krona (US$1.5-million) was divided, one half jointly to Bruce A. Beutler, age 54, at The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California, and Jules A. Hoffmann, age 70, at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology in Strasbourg, for their discovery of receptor proteins that can recognize bacteria and other microorganisms and activate innate immunity, and the other half to Ralph M. Steinman, age 68, at Rockefeller University in New York, for his discovery of dendritic cells of the immune system and their unique capacity to activate and regulate adaptive immunity, the later stage of the immune response during which microorganisms are cleared from the body.