Your mouth is full of bacteria but not all produce teeth-rotting acids. The problem with using antiseptic mouthwashes is that they kill all bacteria – including helpful ones – which can upset a natural balance that’s important for oral health. Scientists have developed a synthetic peptide called C16G2 that destroys the acid-forming bacteria Streptococcus mutans – pictured here before (left) and after exposure (right) – without harming other species. The development of this selective mouthwash may have impacts far beyond dentistry. Creating a variety of peptides that target specific types of bacteria could provide a new class of drugs to fight disease with fewer side-effects than existing antibiotics. It may even be possible to engineer communities of bacteria anywhere in the body to correct imbalances.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.