Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

Use of Arginine as Biofilm Destabilizer

Technology #5902

Questions about this technology? Ask a Technology Manager

Download Printable PDF

Alexander Rickard
Managed By
Tiefei Dong
Senior Licensing Specialist, Life Sciences 734-763-5332
Patent Protection
US Patent Pending
US Patent Pending

Oral biofilms cause major problems throughout both industrialized and developing countries. Data from recent surveys indicate that 23.7% of US adults have untreated dental caries while 38.5% of adults have moderate to severe periodontitis. Untreated dental caries also affects between 15-20% of children up to 19 years, while periodontitis is a major problem in the elderly population, where 64% of adults over 65 years have moderate to severe forms of the condition. Clearly, new methods for controlling dental plaque-related diseases are urgently needed. The use of arginine as a biofilm destabilizer could impact patients suffering from dental caries. L-arginine-based hygiene systems would reduce the cariogenicity of dental plaque and, importantly, physically (by de-adhesion) and metabolically destabilize biofilms to prevent periodontal disease.

Use of arginine as biofilm destabilizer

Researchers at the University of Michigan and Newcastle University developed an innovative method to using L-arginine to manipulate oral biofilms. L-Arginine is an amino acid that is non-toxic and required by many bacteria in order to grow. Researchers have demonstrated that a high concentration of L-arginine causes biofilms to disperse. This concentration range is particularly effective in dental plaque biofilms. L-arginine needs to be suspended in a suitable liquid to a concentration range between 50-500mM and the developing biofilm is exposed to this concentration. With the overuse of antimicrobials/antibiotics and the development of antimicrobial resistance, the application of L-arginine is potentially more efficacious and less likely to facilitate antimicrobial resistance This technology will enable the researchers to modulate dental plaque structure and composition. This technology will have a major impact on oral biofilm research, where investigators have indicated that L-arginine is critical for coaggregation and possibly biofilm formation.


  • Mouthwashes
  • Overnight mouth guard
  • White-strips
  • Chewing gum
  • Bandages
  • Coating of inanimate surfaces
  • Catheters
  • Contact lenses
  • Contact solution


  • Cheap to purchase
  • Lowers the propensity for antimicrobial resistance
  • Non-toxic
  • Biologically compatible
  • Used at the range of concentrations specified in the human oral cavity already (Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief® Desensitizing Paste) to treat sensitivity
  • Stable for long-term storage
  • Environmentally friendly