Research News

Posted on: Wednesday, 02/19/2014

School Receives $5 million to Study Extracellular RNA in Saliva

The School received $5 million in research funding from the National Institutes for Health, for an exciting new venture, to study biological markers in saliva to attempt to develop a tool for detecting stomach cancer. The study has the potential to create a new paradigm in the field of salivary diagnostics, and it could supply concrete evidence that saliva can be used in the detection of life-threatening diseases, including diabetes and cancers of the pancreas, breasts, ovaries, and stomach.

Dr. David Wong, Associate Dean of Research, will lead the 5-year study. His team will develop and definitively validate salivary extracellular ribonucleic acid biomarkers for stomach cancer detection. Read the full press release.

In addition to the $5 million that Dr. Wong received, he was also awarded nearly $1.2 million in supplemental funding from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research for his on-going study of “Clinical Validation of Salivary Biomarkers for Sjögren's Syndrome Detection.”

School Receives $1.9 million from NIDCR to Study Drug-induced Bone Loss in Jaw

The School was awarded nearly $2 million over five years from NIH's National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) to study the unexplained side effect of anti-resportive agents, bisphosphonate and denosumab, and how they cause osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ). ONJ is a painful disease that affects the upper and lower jaws, where the bone experiences long-term exposure and delayed wound healing.

Dr. Reuben Kim, Associate Professor in the Divisions of Restorative Dentistry and Oral Biology and Medicine is the Principal Investigator on the study. Co-investigators on the study are Dean No-Hee Park, Dr. Mo Kang, Professor and Chairman of the Section of Endodontics; and Dr. Ki-Hyuk Shin, Associate Adjunct Professor in the Section of Oral Biology.

Nanodiamond Research

  • In a research study, led by Dr. Dean Ho, Professor of Oral biology and Medicine and Co-Director of the Jane and Jerry Weintraub Center for Reconstructive Biotechnology, scientists may have found a way to use nanodiamonds to improve bone growth and combat osteonecrosis.

    The study was in collaboration with the UCLA Department of Bioengineering, Northwestern University, and the NanoCarbon Research Institute in Japan. Findings appear online in the peer-reviewed Journal of Dental Research. Read the full press release.

  • In a collaborative study between Dr. Dean Ho and colleagues from the Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago and Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, the researchers were able to develop an innovative drug-delivery system, in which nanodiamonds are used to carry chemotherapy drugs directly into brain tumors. The new method was found to result in greater cancer-killing efficiency and fewer harmful side effects than existing treatments.

    Their findings were published online in the peer-reviewed journal Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine. Read the full press release.

  • In collaboration with the National University of Singapore (NUS), Dr. Dean Ho, Professor in the Division of Oral Biology and Medicine, discovered that by binding multiple molecules of a common leukemia drug with nanodiamonds, they managed to boost the delivery of the drug to leukemic cells and retain the drug within the cells to combat the cancer.

    Dr. Ho worked in conjunction with Dr. Edward Chow, Principal Investigator at the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore and Assistant Professor at the Department of Pharmacology, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine at NUS.

    The findings were first published online in the medical journal Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine. Read the full press release.

Exploring Epigenetic Regulation of HPV


Dr. Cun-Yu Wang, Contact Investigator, and Dr. Reuben Kim, Investigator, have received nearly $2.3 million from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research to study the, “Epigenetic Control of HPV-associated Oral Carcinogenesis.”  Drs. Wang and Kim will examine epigenetic mechanisms that control HPV-mediated gene expression and oral cancer development. They hope to identify new therapeutics that would control HPV-associated oral cancer.

New Grants & Contracts

PI NameSponsorProject TitleTotal BudgetProject Period
Vivek Shetty National Science Foundation 2013 mHealth Training Institute @UCLA $18,000 07/01/13 - 06/30/14
Dean Ho National Science Foundation Multifunctional Nanodiamond Platforms for Targeted Imaging and Therapy $313,639 08/11/12 - 07/31/14
Northwestern University Theranostic Magnetic Nanostructure for the Molecular Imaging of Cancer $89,699 05/01/13 - 07/31/15
National Science Foundation Scalable Fabrication of Nanodiamond Patch Platforms for Sustained Drug Release $172,636 07/31/12 - 12/31/13
Christine Hong Cleft Palate Foundation Effects of Bisphosphonate on Palatal Expansion and Alveolar Cleft Bone Grafting $5,000 07/01/13 - 06/30/14
Zhong Zheng Plastic Surgery Educational Foundation Frep Cell-based Therapy FOR Skeletal Muscle Generation $50,000 07/01/13 - 06/30/14
David Wong NIH/National Center for Advancing Translational Science Clinical Utility of Salivary exRNA Biomarkers for Gastric Cancer Detection $3,699,294 08/01/13 - 07/31/15
Igor Spigelman NIH/National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Chronic Pain and Alcohol Dependence $404,250 09/01/13 - 08/31/15
Reuben Kim NIH/National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research MOLECULAR MECHANISMS OF DRUG- INDUCED ONJ AND OSTEOMUCOSAL CHRONIC WOUNDS $1,925,000 09/13/13 - 05/31/18