Eastman Dental Institute


Battling Oral Bacteria – Eastman grant winner announced

12 October 2015

Adam Roberts in his lab

Congratulations to Eastman researcher Dr Adam Roberts for winning our Research Away-Day Grant competition.

The award will enable Dr Roberts’ team to continue their work, unpicking the defensive capabilities of Streptococcus mutans* - a decay-causing bacterium which is notoriously difficult to remove from teeth.

The £20,000 grant is made up of matched funding from the UCLH Biomedical Research Centre and Eastman.

Dr Roberts said: “S. mutans spends its time fermenting dietary sugars such as glucose and sucrose into lactic acid. These acids cause demineralisation of the enamel on teeth and, if not adequately treated, cavities and a host of further oral and systemic diseases.

“It is difficult to remove because it forms biofilms in the crevices and fissures of the tooth that normal, cleaning methods, such as tooth-brushing, fail to reach. The biofilm essentially protects S. mutans from the action of antibacterial components of toothpaste and mouthwash and also provides protection from mechanical removal by tooth-brushing.”

“We have so far identified a small number of environmental isolates from the Swab and Send project capable of preventing the S. mutans biofilm strongly attaching to the tooth.”

“This much-needed grant will enable us to continue this work and also identify and understand the molecules which are interacting with S. mutans and the biofilm.”Eastman Institute Director, Professor Stephen Porter, said: “Dental decay remains a significant health care burden that causes pain and the need for sometimes complex treatment that in children may necessitate general anaesthesia

“We are very pleased to be able to fund Adam’s work in this area, increasing the project’s ability to secure long-term, sustainable funding and potentially attract industrial partnerships in order to move the molecules into products aimed at preventing common oral disease.”

Interested in helping Adam in the search for new antibiotics? Get involved