Published June 11, 2020
The School of Dental Medicine and university spinoff OptiMed Technology have been awarded a $50,000 manufacturing grant from the Jeff Lawrence Innovation Fund to accelerate development of their products to the marketplace.
OptiMed Technology utilizes nanotechnology to develop toothpaste and 3D-printed denture materials that treat irreversible gum overgrowth and fungal infections, conditions that affect millions of people each year.
The technology is based on research from the lab of Praveen Arany, assistant professor of oral biology in the School of Dental Medicine, who recently developed polymer microcapsules that release medication in a controlled manner.
The Jeff Lawrence Innovation Fund, administered by FuzeHub, annually provides $1 million to help small- to medium-size New York State manufacturing and technology companies enhance the research, development and commercialization of their products and services.
The grant will support production of OptiMed Technology’s first product, digoDent, a supplement toothpaste that can both prevent and treat development of drug-induced gingival overgrowth.
Gingival overgrowth is a side effect of several commonly prescribed drugs, including immunosuppressants, and anti-seizure and high blood pressure medications. The condition, which affects more than 1 million people each year, results in irreversible scar tissue in the gums that causes them to cover the teeth, interfering with chewing, speaking and oral hygiene.
Current treatment for gingival overgrowth is limited to surgery to remove scar tissue. However, these procedures are expensive — costing $500 to $1,500 — and temporary, as recurrence rates are as high as 40%, says Arany.
By delivering the drug within toothpaste, patients can begin the therapy without altering their daily routines, Arany explains. “Compliance is a major issue with preventive treatments. It is more about lifestyle and economics than the scientific evidences alone,” he says.
The novel treatment was identified by Saeed Ur Rahman, lead scientist in the Arany lab. Using several lab models, Rahman investigated the use of an innovative toothpaste formulation to effectively prevent and treat gum disease.
“The importance of oral health in one’s overall health is not appreciated enough,” says Rahman. “Caring for your mouth, teeth and gums will increase the chances that your body remains strong and vital throughout your life.”
OptiMed Technology is also working with the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Center for Dental Studies within the dental school to develop and test digoDent for launch in 2020.
The company, which operates with a team of 10 scientists, engineers and advisers out of Foster Hall on the South Campus, recently received a $25,000 grant from the UB Center for Advanced Technology in Big Data and Health Sciences (UB CAT), part of the university’s Office of Business and Entrepreneur Partnerships.