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Bug Balance
27 July 2015

Bug Balance

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.

Written by Mick Warwicker

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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