Play-doh. Microwaves. Penicillin - and now ferumoxytol. What do these four things have in common? Well, with the exception of the latter (for now), they’re all household names. But they also all hold the distinct honor of being products with uses that were discovered entirely by accident.
Play-doh was originally created in the 1930s as a wallpaper cleaner. Microwaves were invented when an engineer named Percy Spencer noticed a vacuum tube he was working with melted the chocolate bar in his pocket. Penicillin was discovered when mold accidentally began to grow in Sir Alexander Fleming’s bacteria petri dishes, and ferumoxytol was initially developed to treat iron deficiency. But the drug has been found to do a whole lot more, too.
You see, ferumoxytol is a nanoparticle, which when injected into the blood creates what is called a "nanozyme effect." This nanozyme effect is usually found in enzymes, but in some unique cases, it can cause a biochemical reaction when introduced to a biological environment with nanoparticles - and that’s exactly what happened with ferumoxytol. When injected into the bloodstream, scientists noticed something unexpected: The ferumoxytol was actually spurring the growth of bacteria-killing free radicals in the mouth!
That’s right - ferumoxytol might have been designed to restore iron, but scientists are banking on it being able to someday kill dangerous oral bacteria and heal teeth.
That’s because in clinical studies, ferumoxytol not only was found to kill bacteria, but also was able to heal the damage to the teeth of lab rats, essentially curing their cavities.
So, when can you expect Dr. Abelar to use ferumoxytol to solve all your dental problems? Unfortunately, not anytime soon - but hopefully in the next few years after clinical trials are complete. For now you’ll just have to care for your teeth the old-fashioned way, with a toothbrush, toothpaste and dental floss.
Professional checkups and cleanings are also critical for healthy teeth. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Abelar today, call 858-866-9692.