Dental School Research Announcements
Throughout the UCLA School of Dentistry, scientists are conducting research at the forefront of 21st-century dental medicine.
On July 20, 2009, the UCLA Office of Media Relations announced that UCLA medical researchers had collaborated with the dental school's Sotirios Tetradis as well as with other scientific colleagues to identify a way to turn off a key signaling pathway involved in the physiological processes that can stimulate the development of cancer and other diseases.
In the study, published in the journal Molecular Endocrinology, "scientists found that by activating a receptor in cells called the liver X receptor (LXR), they were able to inhibit the hedgehog (Hh) signaling pathway, which is involved in the maintenance of tissue integrity and stem cell generation. When stimulated in an unregulated manner, however, the Hh pathway can also cause cancers of the brain, lung, blood, prostate, skin and other tissues." The researchers' findings may lead to new treatments including targeted pharmaceuticals. The full announcement is available online.
On July 31, 2009, the UCLA Office of Media Relations issued a research advisory to announce that dental school researchers had come to a new understanding of the cause of a rare genetic facial disorder.
The disease, known as oculo-facial-cardio-dental syndrome (OFCD), is characterized by canine teeth with extremely long roots, congenital cataracts, craniofacial defects and congenital heart disease, and is associated with mutations in a protein that shuts down gene expression during fetal development.
The findings of Cun-Yu Wang and his colleagues, published in Nature Cell Biology, provide a molecular explanation for the exaggerated dental and craniofacial features seen in patients with OFCD, and unravel the epigenetic mechanisms that control human adult stem-cell function. This may lead to a treatment for OFCD, as well as to new therapies for promoting the growth of teeth and bone.
August 25, 2009 marked the date of the advance online publication, in the September 1 issue of Clinical Cancer Research, of new findings that emanated from David Wong's laboratory.
Wong and his colleagues at the dental school, the UCLA School of Public Health and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA have expanded the available avenues for the diagnosis of oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) to include microRNAs. Like hall monitors in an elementary school, microRNAs are the molecules produced by cells that simultaneously assess the behavior of multiple genes and control their activity.
Dr. David Wong and his colleagues previously demonstrated the usefulness of proteome and transcriptome diagnostics for oral cancer. The scientists’ latest results show that while the saliva of healthy individuals contains about 50 microRNAs, two in particular — miR-125a and miR-200a — are present at significantly different levels in the saliva of individuals suffering from OSCC.