Much of the research concerning the human microbiome focuses on the gut and the influence that diet and nutrition have on the microbes residing in our digestive systems. Fewer studies consider the bacteria and fungi that live in our mouths, and even fewer look specifically at the oral microbiome’s role in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) – until now.
Vincent Richards, an assistant professor of biological sciences at Clemson University, has received a $1.85 million R-01 grant from the National Institute of Health National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Researchto study the association between tooth decay and HIV infection in a population of children from Nigeria.
The study comes after preliminary results indicated a higher incidence of tooth decay, officially known as dental caries, in HIV-positive children whose immune systems are compromised by the virus. Partnered with the finding that the distribution of microbes in the gut microbiome is altered by HIV infection, Richards’ study intends to characterize the microbes living in the mouth that might be contributing to the decay.
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