Veterinary Dental Vaccine May Aid in Periodontitis Prevention

A canine periodontitis vaccine, which has been described as an industry first by veterinary professionals, may soon be available to pet owners nationwide.

Initial research shows that the new canine periodontitis vaccine produced by Pfizer Animal Health could impact bacteria build-up in the mouth and help to prevent osteolysis associated with periodontitis. The vaccine, scheduled for release in the third quarter of 2006, received conditional licensing from the USDA in July 2005, and was sent to some dental specialists last week on a trial basis.

“It looks like a good tool to use in periodontal treatment and prevention,” said Robert Boyd, DVM, DAVDC, who operates a veterinary dental specialty practice in Texas. He received the vaccine last week but has not yet offered it to clients.

Pfizer has hosted several educational sessions on the vaccine and presented data at the AAHA Yearly Conference and the Veterinary Dental Forum in Orlando.

“[Veterinary professionals are] extremely optimistic about having another tool to prevent periodontal disease,” said Heidi Lobprise, DVM, DAVDC, a senior veterinary specialist with Pfizer.

The Porphyromonas Denticanis – Gulae – Salivosa Bacterin vaccine is designed to inhibit the accumulation of black-pigmented anaerobic bacteria in the mouth, including Porphyromonas denticanis, P. gulae, and P. salivosa. At least one of these three strains were found in 76 percent of the dogs studied in 2003.

Dental bone loss occurs when the anaerobic bacteria reach critical mass, said Lobprise, author of The Veterinarian’s Companion for Common Dental Procedures. The proposed mode of action involves the vaccine producing antibodies, which inhibit bacteria from reaching that level, she explained. She added that the vaccine would not prevent plaque accumulation but would target three bacteria found to cause bone loss. Mice studies conducted by Pfizer between 2000 and 2004 showed that animals given the vaccine had a signficant reduction in osteolysis.

Boyd, who attended the dental forum, has not devised a protocol for vaccine use, but said he would use the vaccine as a preventative tool and for treatment. Target audiences for the vaccine may be breeds with a genetic predisposition to periodontal disease as well as dogs that have been diagnosed with it. As a treatment, he said, “we hope we can build some immunity in the [dogs], and prevent further disease.”

Clarence Sitzman, DVM, past president of the American Veterinary Dental Society, has heard about the vaccine and may use it to treat periodontal disease. “I would use it as an adjunct for dogs with active periodontal disease to see if we can get rid of the organisms that cause it,” he said. Sitzman owns a general practice in Colorado, and said he would wait to evaluate Pfizer’s data before implementing any yearly vaccine protocols.

And although Lobprise said the vaccine could be used on healthy dogs as young as seven weeks old in conjunction with regular dental cleanings and home care, Sitzman said he would not use it in dogs younger than five years old and would focus on its use as part of a treatment protocol.

Pricing details were not available at press time, though Lobprise told NEWStat that the vaccine could be given subcutaneously and the suggested protocol would be two initial doses given three weeks apart. Revaccination intervals have not been established, but Pfizer is evaluating six- and 12-month intervals, she added.

The vaccine arrives at a time when industry members – and consumers – are evaluating vaccine intervals closely, yet Pfizer representatives are optimistic.

“The initial safety studies are very good and periodontal disease is extremely prevalent,” Lobprise said. “You have to weigh the potential benefits to the risks of something as prevalent as periodontal disease.”

NEWStat Advancements & research News