Case Western Reserve University Logo A team of experts suggest that an effective way of stopping bacteria from doing any damage is to stop it right in its path, even before it has started its destruction. These experts are now trying to think of a way to stop a particular bacterium from creating havoc once it has reached the fetus from its mother mouth. This research has been conducted by Yiping Han, associate professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine.

It has been stated that a particular bacterium is harmless when it is in the mother’s mouth, but turns otherwise when it reaches the fetus. It seems the Fusobacterium nucleatum bacterium turns deadly once it leaves the mouth and gains entry into the blood stream.

In the genes of F. nucleatum, Han is noted to have detected FadA, which is an adhesin protein molecule. Apparently this binding agent on the bacteria makes it possible for it to connect with the receptors on epithelial cells in the mouth, and later also with the endothelial cells of the placenta.

More so, Han is believed to have received a five-year, $1.85 million grant for this research from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health.

“With this new grant, we will be able to continue a functional analysis of FadA,” states Han.

Apparently, tests showed that the bacteria without FadA seemed to have lesser ability to bind than the ones having this adhesin. Apart from the binding agent, these experts also intend to further analyze the receptors on the host epithelial and endothelial cells which encourage the binding of the oral bacteria.

“In some way, the receptors on the host cell activate a signal that puts into action a cascade of processes that allow the bacteria to penetrate the epithelial and endothelial linings and then colonize,” says Han. “We want to block the bacteria before it can do any damage. It’s an upstream approach to go back to where the whole process begins and stop it from starting its destruction.”
Following the passage of the bacteria through the placenta, it is evidently easier for the bacteria to quickly replicate. This rapid replication is possible because of the immune-free environment which prevents the fetus from being rejected by the mother’s body. Due to the rapid multiplication of bacteria, the placenta may get inflamed, which could in turn possibly lead to preterm birth or fetal death.

Therefore for this purpose, the findings of this research could be useful in preventing such preterm births or fetal deaths. More so, this research may also be beneficial in preventing the occurrence of periodontal disease.

The research team has reported on the findings in the journal Infection and Immunity.