Research News

Posted on: Tuesday, 07/24/2018

Researchers discover gene that controls bone-to-fat ratio in bone marrow

Dr. Cun-Yu Wang, chair and professor of oral biology and medicine, and Dr. Bo Yu, assistant professor of restorative dentistry, recently discovered that gene PGC-1α is a factor in controlling bone and fat ratio in bone marrow and determining the fate of adult stem cells.

The full article (UCLA Newsroom) describing the results of the study are published online in the journal Cell Stem Cell.

The study originally began as an investigation into the role of the gene in age-induced bone loss. Simulating osteoporosis on a mouse model that lacked PGC-1α proteins, however, resulted with a significant increase in marrow fat and the expected decrease in bone mass. This led the researchers to pivot towards the role of PGC-1α in stem cell differentiation.

The findings could lead to a better understanding of the disruption of bone-to-fat ratio in bone marrow and point to the gene as a promising therapeutic target in the treatment of osteoporosis and skeletal aging. This study also suggests that regular physical exercise might help to maintain bone health, since physical exercise can induce PGC-1α expression.

Researchers develop synthetic T cells that mimic form and function of human version

A team led by Dr. Alireza Moshaverinia, assistant professor of prosthodontics, was able to create synthetic T cells, near-perfect facsimiles of human T cells. This innovation is key to developing more effective drugs to treat cancer and autoimmune diseases. The synthetic T cells can also help rebuild the immune systems of people with cancer or immune deficiencies.

The full article (UCLA Newsroom) describing the findings are published online in the journal Advanced Materials.

The research team, consisted of scientists from the UCLA School of Dentistry, the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering and the department of chemistry and biochemistry in the UCLA College, were able to replicate the biological characteristics, shape, size and flexibility of T cells, despite their complex structure. The process, done through a microfluidic system, also has potential for synthesizing other cell types for research or even treatments.

First description of mEAK-7 gene could suggest path toward therapies for cancer, other diseases

Dr. Paul Krebsbach, dean of the UCLA School of Dentistry and professor of periodontics, led a team that discovered the mechanism by which the gene mammalian EAK-7 (mEAK-7) regulates cell growth and human development. Their study revealed an alternative pathway in cell metabolism that can lead to new therapies for diseases.

The full article (UCLA Newsroom) describing the results of the study can be found published online in the journal Science Advances.

Although the gene EAK-7 had been researched in worms, there was little understanding of its function in humans. Dr. Krebsbach’s team was the first to study the human equivalent, and this yielded interesting discoveries. In response to mTOR signaling, a process that regulates cell metabolism, growth, duplication, and survival in humans, the gene activated an alternative pathway, suggesting that cell processes may be more dependent on cell type than previously understood. This alternative pathway also holds potential for treating cancer, some neurological disorders, and other diseases since it can control the duplication and migration of cells in humans, even when mTOR signaling is compromised.

Researchers report findings on periodontal status of current methamphetamine users

Dr. Vladimir Spolsky, associate professor of public health and community dentistry, and Dr. Vivek Shetty, professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery, were authors on the cover article of the March issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association. The article, titled “Periodontal status of current methamphetamine users,” is the first study to the authors’ knowledge, to systematically examine periodontal disease in a large population of current methamphetamine (MA) users. The study found that MA users in a Los Angeles urban setting had a high prevalence and severity of destructive periodontal disease. The frequency of MA use had a minimal impact on the severity of periodontal disease.

“This paper reminds us that a dentist is a health professional and in the treatment of methamphetamine users, the role of the dentist has been largely overlooked. The contribution of dentists to general health can be significant in this population," said Dr. Spolsky.


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