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Study to Determine Genetic Risks of Gum Disease

The University of Michigan School of Dentistry in Ann Arbor and Interleukin Genetics Inc. in Waltham, Massachusetts have agreed to conduct a large-scale clinical study using genetic testing to assess the risk for gum disease, specifically factors that predict periodontal disease progression to tooth loss.

This study will determine if dental patients can be categorized using clinical and biomarker variables to guide the frequency of preventive services to slow or stop periodontitis progression. It will enroll about 4,000 consenting individuals with more than 15 consecutive years of documented oral health history.  Researchers will collected information on periodontitis risk factors and genetic information to assess the frequency of preventive visits consistent with maintenance of proper periodontal health in patients classified as either low-risk or high-risk for periodontitis progression. The study is expected to begin in the fall and take about 12 months to complete.

One of the major rationales for personalized health care involves guiding preventive services to more effectively prevent complications of common chronic diseases of aging, such as periodontitis, and to better allocate overall resources. Interleukin Genetics’ PST genetic test, which will be used in the study, identifies individuals with increased risk for severe and progressive periodontal disease and significant tooth loss based on a panel of genetic variations that predispose an individual to over-express inflammation.

The researchers will combine this genetic information with two other common risk factors, smoking and diabetes, then measure tooth survival rates to see how those results lined up with the treatment plans people received over the 15 years.

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