The research of the Division of Clinical Oral Microbiology and Immunology is focused on understanding the relationship between biofilms and oral infectious diseases and seeking for novel therapeutic strategies that target the structural and biological traits of pathogenic biofilms. To explore the formation of oral polymicrobial biofilms, basic research is conducted using in vitro biofilm models. In addition, clinical studies are performed in the oral cavity, an accessible ecosystem, which harbors diverse biofilms on both hard (mineralized tooth) and soft (gingival, mucosal) surfaces.
Focus is placed on the following main research topics:
1. Oral biofilms: architecture, structural and functional properties of in vitro and in situ multispecies biofilms, under the effect of various environmental factors. With the aid of these biofilms, the role of individual microbial species and their virulence factors is explored. In addition, the effect of novel antimicrobial substances on in vitro and in situ biofilms is tested, visualized by microscopy and quantitively assessed by image analysis.
2. Biofilm matrix: advances in biofilm matrix research could lead to more precise and effective diagnostic and therapeutic approaches against biofilms. Thus, the composition of matrix, mechanisms of matrix formation and microbial cell-matrix interactions are investigated. New matrix targeting approaches can locally undermine bacterial virulence and disrupt the establishment of pathogenic biofilms.
3. Host-microbe interactions: effects of multispecies biofilms or individual microbial species on immune cells or organotypic oral tissues. The main aim is to decipher the molecular mechanisms by which oral microorganisms stimulate inflammation and subsequent tissue destruction in oral disease.