New vaccine for tooth decay British scientists have developed a successful vaccine against tooth decay from genetically modified tobacco plants, according to a recent report in the journal Nature Medicine. Results from a four-month patient trial were very encouraging, leading to speculation that the treatment should be available to the public within a few years. Tooth decay is caused by the bacterium Streptococcus mutans, which produces acid as it feeds on sugar and other carbohydrates coating the teeth. It affects half of all children by the age of five and three quarters of all 17 year-olds. The liquid vaccine that has been developed is simply painted on the teeth. A few applications provide protection against tooth decay for at least four months. The active components are antibodies that attach themselves to the tooth decay bacteria, preventing them from becoming established on the teeth. While these impotent microbes are washed away, other ones that are harmless, colonise the teeth
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