Research News

Posted on: Friday, 09/12/2014

Bone ImageDiscovery May Slow Bone Loss

Dr. Cun-Yu Wang and his research team discovered that a key growth factor, Wnt4, is secreted into the bone marrow and effectively prevents bone loss in mouse models of osteoporosis and skeletal aging. They were able to show that Wnt4 inhibits NF-кB signaling, a key pathway in the body’s inflammatory processes. With a greater understanding of Wnt4 signaling, researchers are now closer to developing therapeutic agents that could slow down bone loss, regenerate lost bone and inhibit the inflammation associated with osteoporosis and aging-related bone diseases.

The team’s research findings were published in the August 10th issue of Nature Medicine – a leading biomedical research journal.
Read full press release.

Dr. Sanjay Mallya's Research Highlighted in ScienceNow

Dr. Sanjay Mallya, Assistant Professor and the Residency Program Director in the Section of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology, was recently highlighted in the American Institute for Cancer Research's Spring journal Science Now. The article covered his original research on the association between Vitamin D and oral cancer, which was published in the International Journal of Oncology. He demised that there is currently no clear conclusion on vitamin D’s role in cancer, but little is known about its role in mouth, tongue and other oral cancers. Dr. Mallya concluded that It could be that Vitamin D lowers risk for certain groups of people at heightened risk. The full article can be found on page 8 of the newsletter. The original research can be downloaded here.

Grant to Support Osteoporosis Treatment

Dr. Kang Ting, Professor and Chair of the Division of Growth and Development, received more than $2.1MM from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal & Skin Diseases to develop better therapeutic agents to treat osteoporosis. The grant is a R01 grant, which is the original grant mechanism used by NIH, and it provides support for health-related research and development based on the mission of the NIH. 

With this new grant funding they hope to further develop NELL-1 as a promising systemic therapeutic agent for osteoporosis. They believe that NELL-1 could effectively reverse osteoporotic bone loss, and also regulate bone homeostasis by regulating osteoblast (OB) and osteoclast (OC) differentiation and activity via Wnt/β-catenin signaling. 

Utilizing Mobile Applications to Improve Healthcare Outcomes & Delivery

Dr. Vivek Shetty, Professor in the Section of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research at UCLA, was awarded more than $1 million over the next four years from the National Institute for Drug Abuse to produce annual training institutes, here at UCLA, for mobile health methodologies. Mobile health, coined mHealth, is defined as mobile health applications that try to improve healthcare delivery and outcomes. In collaboration with other departments on campus, Dr. Shetty’s goal is to advance an innovative ecosystem that fosters transdisciplinary collaborations around mHealth themes and provides the UCLA community with the enabling resources, guidance and networks to translate scientific research into transformative mHealth solutions. 

Grant to Explore Bone Regeneration

Tara Aghaloo research grantDr. Tara Aghaloo, Professor and Associate Dean for Clinical Research, was granted $100,000 from the Osteo Science Foundation to explore bone and soft tissue regeneration in animals with mandibular (lower jaw) continuity defects. Her work stems from the need for a better clinical solution to successfully treat mandibular defects, which is currently treated by bone grafting – a sometimes complicated operation that could lead to morbidity.

Dr. Aghaloo and her team created a clinically relevant rat model and will directly evaluate rhBMP-2 with Bio-oss +/- cross-linked collagen compared to autogenous bone in mandibular defect bone and soft tissue regeneration. Their rationale is that identifying effective tissue engineering constructs for segmental mandibular defects will improve outcomes and decrease morbidity of autologous-based treatment protocols.

Recognizing Promising Young Researchers

This past spring, one of our PhD candidates, Sarah Al-Hiyari, was selected as the 2014-2015 Gert Quigley Fellow. The highly prestigious fellowship program, offered by the American Association for Dental Research (AADR), chose Sarah based on her impressive academic and professional background. The program includes a 6-week unique learning experience, and she was given the opportunity to be onsite at the AADR headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. While there, she familiarized herself with the federal legislative process as it relates to basic and translational dental and craniofacial research, as well as research on the oral healthcare delivery system.

Following the 6-week position, Sarah continues to serve as a fellow through the Government Affairs Committee (GAC) and a 1-year term as a member of the AADR National Student Research Group (NSRG) Board as Advocacy Representative.

Sarah has primarily focused her research on understanding the genetic basis of periodontitis. She received her undergraduate degree in microbiology from Texas Tech University, where she graduated magna cum laude. She also has a master’s degree in molecular biology. She has a deep passion for educating policymakers about the value and importance of dental, oral, and craniofacial research.

Oral Radiology Residents Take Home Awards

At the annual meeting of the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology (AAOMR), both UCLA residents received Rinn-Dentsply Awards. One for the best clinical poster and the other for the best research poster. 

Dr. Sung Kim (pictured at left) received the Rinn-Dentsply Research Award for his presentation "Morphological changes in the upper airway with mandibular repositioning appliances," a collaboration between the Sections of Oral Radiology and Orofacial Pain. Dr. Hannah Duong (pictured at right) received the Rinn-Dentsply Clinical Award for her presentation "Gnathodiaphyseal dysplasia: A syndrome associated with florid osseous dysplasia". Her work described the clinical and molecular findings in a rare syndrome that was diagnosed in the Oral Radiology Clinic. This is the second consecutive year that both UCLA Oral Radiology residents received awards at the AAOMR annual meeting.

Orthodontics Resident Takes 1st Place in Poster Competition

Dr. Nicole Cheng, Class of 2014Former Orthodontics resident/Oral Biology MS degree recipient, Dr. Nicole Cheng, Class of 2014, was awarded 1st place in the Basic Science Research poster competition at the Charley Schultz Resident Scholar Award program, which she presented at the 2014 American Association of Orthodontics annual session. Nicole was chosen by the School of Dentistry to represent UCLA Orthodontics and beat out 20 other poster entries from residents around country.

Nicole’s winning research poster was titled; “Optimal timing of bisphosphonate treatment on alveolar cleft bone grafting.” Her goal with her poster was to investigate the optimal timing of Bisphosphonate (BP) – drugs that prevent bone loss – injection on bone grafts placed in defects in rats. She found that bone volume was significantly higher in delayed BP injection groups compared to controls and BP injection at the time of surgery. She was able to conclude that delayed one-time BP injection showed greatest bone healing in comparison to injection at the time of surgery and the control. She would like to thank her two mentors, Drs. Christine Hong and Sotirios Tetradis for their guidance over the past three years.

Dr. Cheng always knew she wanted to enter the dentistry field and received her DDS degree from USC and her Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry from UCLA. She is currently working in private practice in the Los Angeles area.

Endodontics Resident Among Top 10 at AAE Meeting

Alan Commet, 2nd year Endodontics resident This past May, Dr. Alan Commet, Endodontics resident with the Class of 2014, was the recipient of the American Association of Endodontists (AAE)/DENTSPLY Student Award at the AAE annual meeting. Dr. Commet's presentation scored and ranked as one of the top 10 presentations in his category. His presentation was viewable at the Exhibit Hall at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland where the meeting took place. He also received a monetary prize along with the recognition.



Dental Student Takes First Place in Research Competition

Samantha Chang, Class of 2016 and a DDS/PhD student in Dr. David Wong’s lab, was awarded 1st place in the Scientific Abstract Competition at the 42nd Student National Dental Association (SNDA) Convention that took place in New Orleans, LA. As a student researcher in Dr. Wong’s lab, Samantha focused on salivary diagnostics. Her abstract’s title was “iSCPSS: Integrated Saliva Collection, Processing, Stabilization and Storage,” which is a self-contained personal whole saliva collection and extraction system. The collection system provides rapid ambient temperature collection and concurrent processing and stabilization of extracellular RNA (exRNA) and proteins. The iSCPSS system provides a dramatic improvement in analyte stability over untreated whole saliva while eliminating many of the requirements restricting collection to clinical settings. The system is a significant addition in the arsenal required to enable truly personalized remote self-collection of saliva with diagnostic clinical utility. Congratulations Samantha on your award.

Mentoring Future Researchers

UCLA bioengineering undergraduate and student researcher in Dr. Dean Ho’s lab, Albert Yen, received the UCLA Poster Day Dean's Prize and also received a Materials Research Society (MRS) Poster Award Finalist Ribbon. MRS typically only presents ribbons to faculty, postdoctoral researchers, and graduate students, and for an undergraduate to receive one is a huge achievement.

Dr. Ben Wu also had a bioengineering undergraduate student and student researcher in his lab that received a Poster Day Dean’s Prize. 

In addition, all poster awardees were invited to present their work to faculty, students, and visiting dignitaries this past May, as part of Undergraduate Research Week and the launching of the Centennial Campaign. Congratulations to both students.