Research News

Posted on: Wednesday, 01/07/2015

New Groundbreaking Research Projects Receive Seed Funding

In celebration of the School of Dentistry’s 50th Anniversary, Dean No-Hee Park has established a groundbreaking research program to launch and promote pioneering basic/translational research to improve the oral/systemic health of populations worldwide. Under the program, four cutting-edge research projects have been chosen and the research projects received $200,000 over a 2-year period. The funding grants are meant to provide faculty members with the assistance needed to obtain multi-million dollar federal research grants in the future.

The following research projects were awarded funding for the next two years:

Drs. Sotirios Tetradis/Won Moon – “Decoding the Harmonic Face”

   

Drs. Tara Aghaloo/Min Lee – “3D Printed Tissue Engineered Composite Reconstruction of Maxillofacial Defects”

   

Dr. Benjamin Wu – “A New Generation of Rapid Point-of-Care Diagnostic Devices”

Drs. Dean Ho & Cun-Yu Wang – “Nanodiamond-Embedded Mucoadhesive Tablets for Oral Cancer Therapy”

   


Shedding Light on Microbial Dark Matter

A landmark discovery made by scientists at the School of Dentistry, the J. Craig Venter Institute and the University of Washington School of Dentistry have revealed insights into TM7’s  an elusive and unknown bacteria  resistance to scientific study and its role in the progression of periodontitis and other diseases. The team's findings shed new light on the biological, ecological and medical importance of TM7, and could lead to better understanding of other elusive bacteria. 

It is estimated by scientists that roughly half the bacteria living in human bodies is difficult to replicate for scientific research, which is why biologists call it “microbial dark matter.” Scientists, however, have long been determined to learn more about these uncultivable bacteria, because they may contribute to the development of certain debilitating and chronic diseases. This new research may help crack the code.

The team's findings, led by Dr. Wenyuan Shi, was published online in the December issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Other team members include School of Dentistry faculty Drs. Xuesong He and Renate Lux; Anna Edlund, a postdoctoral scholar; and collaborators from the University of Washington School of Dentistry and the J. Craig Venter Institute. 

Read full press release on the team's research discovery.

Caption: At left, the tight physical association between TM7x cells and XH001. At right, TM7x cells (red) attach to the surface of XH001 (white).


Treasure Found in Saliva

Dr. Grace Xio & Dr. David Wong in a lab

Research published by Dr. David Wong, Professor of Oral Biology and Associate Dean for Research and Dr. Xinshu (Grace) Xiao, Associate Professor of Integrative Biology and Physiology from the UCLA Dept. of Life Sciences, is the most comprehensive analysis ever conducted of RNA molecules in human saliva, revealing that saliva contains many of the same disease-revealing molecules that are contained in blood.

The team's research was published in the peer-reviewed journal Clinical Chemistry and was published in the journal’s January 2015 special print issue, “Molecular Diagnostics: A Revolution in Progress.” The research has the potential to lead to a simple saliva test capable of diagnosing — at an early stage — diabetes and cancer, and perhaps neurological disorders and autoimmune diseases.

Read the full press release


A New Approach to Studying ONJ

Reuben KimDr. Reuben Kim, Associate Professor of Restorative Dentistry and Oral Biology and Medicine, had his research published in the November issue of the American Journal of Pathology's  — the official journal of the American Society of Investigative Pathology. Scientists have speculated that bisphosphonates - antiresorptive drugs - cause ONJ based on how these drugs directly affect osteoclasts. However, the extent to which osteoclasts contribute to the development of ONJ remains uncertain. His research team took a new approach to exploring the causes of ONJ and how bisphosphonates added to the progression of ONJ.

This study was highlighted in “This Month in AJP” in the November issue and featured as the Editor’s Choice article, which is available to the science community.  The paper was also designated for journal-based Continuing Medical Education activity sponsored by Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, as well as the American Society of Investigative Pathology and American Society for Clinical Pathology.

Read the full research alert.


Detecting Lung Cancer Earlier

A research team, led by Dr. David Wong, Associate Dean for Research, completed a study that utilized a novel technology called electric field-induced release and measurement (EFIRM) to test lung cancer patients’ saliva for epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene mutations, a sign of lung cancer, which can be treated by medication such as thymidine kinase inhibitors.

The team's findings will be a significant step forward in developing more effective detection methods of lung cancer - a leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Early detection improves survival rates for people diagnosed with cancer, especially people diagnosed with lung cancer. Researchers from the UCLA School of Dentistry and collaborators from several other leading research institutions have discovered that a liquid biopsy of saliva may be as successful in detecting lung cancer as testing tissue that has to be surgically removed from the lungs.

The new research was featured on the cover of the Nov. 15 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine (AJRCCM).

Read the full research alert.

EFIRM technology for the detection of EGFR mutations in the bodily fluids of lung cancer patients.

Caption: EFIRM technology for the detection of EGFR mutations in the bodily fluids of lung cancer patients. The cyclic-square wave of the electrical field (csw E-field) was applied to release and detect the EGFR mutations. EGFR sequences were measured on the electrochemical sensor with a capture probe pre-coated in conducting polymer. The horseradish peroxidase (HRP) -labeled reporter probe generated amperometric signals when there was a reaction with the 3,3′,5,5′-tetramethylbenzidine (TMB) substrate under a -200 mV electrical field.


PhD Candidate Receives Grant from AAID

Sarah Hiyari receives grantSarah Hiyari, a PhD candidate, was awarded a research grant from the American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID) - the first professional organization in the world dedicated to implant dentistry. Financial support for Sarah's research project, entitled "Genetic Influence of Healing in Extraction Sockets", was also provided by Nobel Biocare. Only three research grants were awarded for the year for this type of project. Additionally, she will present a poster abstract at the annual AAID Annual Meeting in Las Vegas in October. Dr. Flavia Pirih, Assistant Professor in the Section of Periodontics, will act as Sarah's mentor for the duration of the project, which runs for the entire 2015 calendar year. 

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.


Research Grants Awarded to Dual-Degree Trainees

Two of our current DDS/PhD candidates, Ms. Insoon Chang and Mr. Drake Williams, were recently awarded F30 grants by NIH’s National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. The F30 grant program is available to students in dual degree programs and works to increase the pool of highly trained physician-scientists and other clinician-scientists in the biomedical research workforce.

Ms. Insoon Chang, UCLA DDS Class of 2013, is being mentored by Dr. Cun-Yu Wang during her project period, which runs for a year. Her project focuses on head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). This type of cancer is the sixth most common cancer worldwide, and typically presents poor prognosis and resistant to chemotherapy. The major objective of her project is to investigate simultaneous utilization of proteasome inhibitor and histone deacetylase inhibitor as a novel therapeutic regimen to effectively treat HNSCC patients, and to uncover the molecular mechanisms of chemo-resistance.

Mr. Drake Williams, UCLA DDS Class of 2017, is being mentored by Dr. Reuben Kim during his project period, which runs for six years. His project focuses on why dental surgery in some patients taking medications for bone disease or cancer leads to an unhealed wound called osteonecrosis of the jaw. The goal of the project is to find new discoveries that will significantly contribute to the understanding of why this painful condition occurs, and could potentially lead us to a treatment that would stop ONJ from developing in the first place.


New & Existing Grants & Contracts (July 1, 2014 - January 16, 2015)

PI Name

Sponsor

Project Title

Total Budget

Project Period

Tara Aghaloo

OSTEO SCIENCE FOUNDATION

HARD AND SOFT TISSUE ENGINEERING TO REGENERATE MANDIBULAR SEGMENTAL DEFECTS

$100,000

07/01/14 - 06/30/16

Paulo Camargo

THE NICHOLAS ENDOWMENT

IMPROVING THE ORAL HEALTH OF THE LOS ANGELES, SANTA MONICA, VENICE AND THE SOUTH BAY INDIGENT POPULATION

$75,000

01/01/15 - 12/31/15

Anna Edlund

NIH/NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF DENTAL AND CRANIOFACIAL RESEARCH

INVESTIGATING ORAL PATHOGEN VIRULENCE WITHIN COMPLEX ORAL BIOFILM COMMUNITIES

$188,388

07/01/14 - 06/30/16

Dean Ho

AMERICAN ACADEMY OF IMPLANT DENTISTRY RESEARCH FOUNDATION

KIM, SUE: NANODIAMOND- BASED DELIVERY OF FACTORS/THERAPEUTICS TO ENHANCE IMPLANT LIFETIME

$2,500

01/01/15 - 12/31/15

Christine Hong

AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF ORTHODONTISTS FOUNDATION

PRECLINICAL EVALUATION OF BISPHOSPHONATES IN STABILITY OF CLEFT BONE GRAFT

$25,000

07/01/14 - 06/30/15

Christine Hong

NIH/NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF DENTAL AND CRANIOFACIAL RESEARCH

PROMOTING DMSC- MEDIATED CRANIOFACIAL REGENERATION BY ESTROGEN

$665,550

08/01/14 - 07/31/19

Christine Hong

UCLA Dentistry Faculty & Development

 

$10,000

07/01/14 - 06/30/16

Mo Kang

NIH- NIDCR NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF DENTAL AND CRANIOFACIAL RESE

EPIGENETIC ROLE OF GRHL2 IN HPV- ASSOCIATED ORAL CANCER

$284,015

09/24/14 - 08/31/15

Robert Merrill /John Orsi

AMERICAN ACADEMY OF OROFACIAL PAIN

THE USE OF TOPICAL KETOPROFEN AND GUAIFENESIN FOR PAIN RELIEF IN PATIENTS SUFFERING FROM EMPOROMANDIBULAR JOINT CAPSULIT

$1,000

04/01/13 - 02/2815

Robert Merrill /Cynthia Diep

AMERICAN ACADEMY OF OROFACIAL PAIN

ACUPUNCTURE TREATMENT FOR MANAGEMENT OF BURNING MOUTH SYNDROME

$4,000

07/01/14 - 07/01/16

Ichiro Nishimura

UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

MOLECULAR AND CELLULAR MECHANISM OF ONJ RELATED TO OSTEOCLAST INHIBITION

$211,750

07/01/14 - 06/30/16

No-Hee Park/ Paulo Camargo

DHHS/HEALTH RESOURCES & SERVICES ADMINISTRATION

DENTAL REIMBURSEMENT PROGRAM

$406,715

07/01/14 - 02/28/15

Flavia Pririh

NIH/NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF DENTAL AND CRANIOFACIAL RESEARCH

MOUSE GENOME- WIDE ASSOCIATION STUDIES IN LPS- INDUCED BONE LOSS

$407,076

07/01/14 - 04/30/16

Flavia Pririh

AMERICAN ACADEMY OF IMPLANT DENTISTRY RESEARCH FOUNDATION

HIYARI, SARAH: GENETIC INFLUENCE OF HEALING IN EXTRACTION SOCKETS

$2,500

01/01/15 - 12/31/15

Flavia Pririh

UCLA Dentistry Faculty & Development

 

$10,000

07/01/14 - 06/30/15

Vivek Shetty

NIH/NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON DRUG ABUSE

TRAINING INSTITUTES FOR MOBILE HEALTH (MHEALTH) METHODOLOGIES

$854,870

08/01/14 - 07/31/18

Vivek Shetty

RAND CORPORATION

SEX/GENDER DIFFERENCES IN POSTTRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER

$83,854

08/01/14 - 07/31/15

Igor Spigelman

NIH/NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON ALCOHOL ABUSE AND ALCOHOLISM

CELLULAR MECHANISMS OF HPA AXIS NEUROADAPTATIONS IN ALCOHOL DEPENDENCE

$387,826

08/05/14 - 07/31/16

Sotirios Tetradis

NIH/NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF DENTAL AND CRANIOFACIAL RESEARCH

PATHOPHYSIOLOGIC MECHANISMS OF BISPHOSPHONATE RELATED OSTEONECROSIS OF THE JAWS

$1,899,510

08/01/14 - 07/31/19

Sotirios Tetradis

AMGEN

DIFFERENCES OF ANTIRESORPTIVES ON ONJ INITIATION AND RESOLUTION

$449,404

09/05/14 - 09/05/16

Kang Ting

NIH/NATL INST OF ARTHRITIS & MUSCULOSKELETAL & SKIN DISEASES

NELL- 1 SYSTEMIC THERAPY FOR OSTEOPOROSIS

$2,177,740

08/11/14 - 07/31/19

 

 

Total Amount Funded for New Grants

$8,246,698

(Received: $3,167,971)

 

 

 

Total Amount received for New Grants for 07/01/14 - 01/16/15

$11,054,458 

 

 

 

 Total Amount Received for Existing and New Grants for 07/01/14 - 01/16/15

 

$14,222,429 

 

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