Targeted Starch Nanoparticles that Illuminate Carious Lesions

LumiCare™ Caries Detection Rinse is a novel approach to the management of caries. It will greatly enhance oral care by providing dentists with a means to detect caries earlier. This capability allows for practitioners to administer the proper treatment, avoiding or delaying more invasive surgical restoration.

Sub-micron particles have not previously been used for the purpose of caries detection or assessment. The inherent high surface area of the particles provides for effective multi-functionalization to incorporate both targeting and imaging moieties within the same system.

GreenMark’s functionalized starch particles, developed with our collaborators at U-M, were first shown to selectively detect dental caries in vitro (read the Advanced Healthcare Materials article). Starch was chosen because it is non-toxic and is readily degraded by amylase enzymes present in saliva. When modified with a positive charge (cationic functionality), biobased starch particles target and adhere to carious lesions by associating with negative charges (anionic functionalities) characterizing the interior of the lesion.

Early Carious Lesions of Enamel

For an early non-cavitated carious lesion the surface normally remains intact, but open micropores allow acid to enter the enamel subsurface, such that the lesion becomes more and more porous until it eventually collapses into a cavity. Early detection and fluoride or remineralization treatment can prevent the formation of fully developed cavities and help avert or delay the typical restorative cycle. The small size and positive charge of the GreenMark starch particles facilitate entry into the microchannels of carious lesions. The particles are tagged with a fluorescent dye so early non-cavitated carious lesions illuminate using a dental curing lamp common to most dental practices, revealing the size and location of carious lesions.

Fluorescein was selected as the fluorophore because it is safe and already being used in oral applications and in medical procedures. With its ability to be illuminated with a blue LED like those found in dental curing lamps [1], this technology provides a quick way of detecting early-stage caries that may not be otherwise visible to the naked eye.

The starch-based composition of the particles is the ideal carrier material that allows for rapid degradation by salivary amylase making them fully bio-resorbable, so lesions no longer fluoresce upon leaving the dental clinic.

Targeted Starch Nanoparticles

At the core of GreenMark’s dental technology is its proprietary starch nanoparticle. Starch nanoparticles are small submicron particles that form highly stable aqueous dispersions. These particles are supplied by EcoSynthetix Inc. (TSX:ECO), a publicly-traded company co-founded by Dr. Steven Bloembergen, GreenMark’s Chairman and CEO.

By virtue of these starch nanoparticles, GreenMark in essence has a technology platform that can be applied to multiple applications within healthcare. These small particles are not as solid as hard mineral-based nanoparticles, but they are what we affectionally refer to as “nano-sponges”. We utilize the function of these particles to load content on the inside and place functional bonds on the outside of these particles. In so doing, we developed a general device for the targeted bio-delivery of healthcare solutions.

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