June 2, 2023

The National Institutes of Health has awarded a $2.4 million grant to UT Health San Antonio to support its work with the American Dental Association Science & Research Institute (ADASRI) to conduct a clinical trial studying the responsible use of antibiotics in combination with other treatments for periodontal disease.
The four-year study, funded by NIH’s National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research, will be led by Dr. Georgios Kotsakis, principal grant recipient and investigator and associate professor of periodontics at the Alamo City institute’s School of Dentistry. ADASRI CEO Marcelo Araujo will serve as co-investigator and collaborator.
The goal of the project is to generate data on periodontal disease treatments that are supplemented by the use of antibiotics, otherwise known as adjunctive antibiotic therapy. The data will be collected by more than 30 clinicians with the National Dental Practice-Based Research Network. The study will enroll 1,050 periodontal patients who receive dental care in practices across the country.
“With the current rise of superbugs, which are multi-resistant bacteria that kill tens of thousands of Americans every year due to antibiotic resistance, there is a critical need to determine if specific patient populations benefit from adjunctive antibiotics,” Kotsakis said. “This new trial is expected to have a major impact on reducing antibiotic misuse in dentistry, which contributes to antibiotic resistance.”
The clinicians will share clinical and patient-experience data about the efficacy of the antibiotics they administer, and the data could be used to develop evidence-based clinical guidelines that offer treatment alternatives and support antibiotic stewardship.
“Antibiotic stewardship is one of the most important topics in dentistry today, and given Dr. Kotsakis’s track record of successfully translating clinical trials into data that improves clinical practice, we are confident that our work will advance the future of oral health,” Dr. Araujo said.
Periodontal disease affects nearly 40% of the U.S. population, and periodontitis, or severe gum disease, is one of the most prevalent inflammatory diseases in adults worldwide, Kotsakis said. Advanced stages of the disease can cause jawbone destruction, loss of teeth and low-grade inflammation that increases the risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other inflammatory illnesses.
Because periodontitis is caused by oral bacteria in the plaque around teeth, systemic antibiotics are often used by dentists as part of the treatment. But UT Health San Antonio officials said data is unclear on the benefit of adjunctive antibiotics.
The new trial is expected to begin in spring 2023.
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