LINCOLN, Neb., U.S.: Dr. Ali Tamayol, Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), has led a team that used nanoparticle engineering to develop a membrane that can fight an advanced form of periodontal disease. The team has been analysing and interpreting data that was collected at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

In the U.S., 47 percent of adults aged 30 and older have periodontitis, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. The current treatment for periodontitis entails controlling the growth of gingival tissue to allow the bone to regenerate. To do this, a membrane is placed to prevent the gingival tissue from growing where the bone should.

The problem with these membranes, according to Dr. Ali Tamayol, is that they do not act as barriers as intended. He believes that nanoparticle fibers would solve this problem, because they are difficult to penetrate. Therefore, Tamayol proposed the idea of using nanoparticle engineering for these membranes to Dr. Alireza Moshaverinia—a board-certified prosthodontist at UCLA who conducted the experiments for this research—because he said it would help the barriers prevent gingival ingrowth until the bone has regenerated.

The researchers decided to use zinc oxide as a component in the membrane, because it would prevent bacteria growth and aid bone regeneration. However, finding the right concentration of zinc oxide to use proved to be an issue, since using too much or too little could cause further problems, such as inflammation.

“We need to find the correct concentration to ensure it’s not having any adverse effect, but it’s also helping,” Tamayol said. He has subsequently put the research on the membrane on hold for the moment. Tamayol and his team will continue the research in January in a laboratory that is opening its doors on the second floor of Scott Engineering Center. The team hopes to receive a grant to support its research so that it can continue to develop the membrane to potentially use it on humans in the near future.

Tamayol and his team have published two papers based on this research. One of these papers, titled “A multifunctional polymeric Periodontal Membrane with Osteogenic and Antibacterial Characteristics,” was published in the Advanced Functional Materials journal on November 10.