Modifying How We Think

UCLA School of Dentistry is home to preeminent faculty and researchers who continue to push the boundaries of traditional dentistry. Dr. Cun-Yu Wang, Professor and Chair of the Division of Oral Biology and Medicine, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies, and the Dr. No-Hee Park Endowed Chair in Dentistry, is at the forefront of understanding how cancer cells grow and spread to stop their devastating effect on the head, neck, and entire body. The type of cancer he studies is human squamous cell carcinomas (SCC), which is a highly invasive form of cancer and frequently spreads to the lymph nodes.Cun-Yu Wang in his lab

Dr. Wang and his team have discovered that by modifying how scientists look at the epigenetic regulation, or the inherited changes in gene function, they can predict the molecular activation process that occurs when genes promote metastasis of SCC. Identifying these epigenetic factors, which modify the proteins responsible for promoting the spread of cancer, opens up new avenues for more effective cancer therapeutics. 

Recently, Dr. Wang also discovered the enzymes that are responsible for promoting the growth of bone cells, while inhibiting them from turning into fat cells. This research could pave the way toward identifying potential therapeutic targets for stem cell–mediated regenerative medicine, as well as the treatment of bone disorders like osteoporosis, the most common type of metabolic bone disease.

Transforming our understanding of genetics, including the proteins and enzymes that dictate how genes behave, is a powerful tool to understanding how to better treat certain cancers and other debilitating diseases. 

WE ARE PROUD TO BE AT THE FOREFRONT OF DISCOVERY AND EDUCATION FOR A NEW ERA OF DENTISTRY AND HEALTH.