Break any bone in the human body and the body can repair the tissue and fix the damage. Yet tooth enamel — the strongest tissue in the human body — cannot repair itself. Still, our teeth last a lifetime.
In 2017, the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine received an $11.7 million grant from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) to establish a resource center dedicated to advancing therapies for regenerating damaged dental, oral, and craniofacial tissues. Officially named the Michigan-Pittsburgh-Wyss Regenerative Medicine (MPWRM) Resource Center: Supporting Regenerative Medicine in Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Technologies, Pitt established the center in partnership with the University of Michigan and Harvard University as part of the NIDCR’s Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Tissue Regeneration Consortium (DOCTRC). The goal of the consortium is to guide new therapies from the research stages through preclinical studies and into human clinical trials.
The Randall Family Big Idea Competition is designed to be an experience-based learning opportunity for University of Pittsburgh students interested in finding a big idea and discovering how to take it to the next steps towards start-up creation. This year, the big idea named Oxi-DENT, a therapeutic coating for dental implants, won the grand prize of $25,000. As the grand prize winner, the Oxi-DENT idea was chosen as the one with the most commercialization promise. Watch Oxi-DENT’s big idea video here.
As reported by Niki Kapsambelis of Pittsburgh Magazine, around the country, dental schools and practitioners are crafting new techniques that treat not only teeth but also a host of other problems from the patient’s neck up. One example is using stem cells to repair the root of a tooth.
Gum Disease Treated by Using Homing Beacon to Bring Needed Immune Cells to Inflamed Area
The red, swollen, and painful gums and bone destruction of periodontal disease could be effectively treated by beckoning the right kind of immune system cells to the inflamed tissues, according to a new pre-clinical study conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, including McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine faculty members Steven Little, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, and Charles Sfeir, D.D.S., Ph.D., director, Center for Craniofacial Regeneration, and associate professor, Departments of Periodontics and Oral Biology, Pitt’s School of Dental Medicine. Their findings, published in the early online version of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, offer a new therapeutic paradigm for a condition that afflicts 78 million people in the U.S. alone.
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine faculty are trying to open a new front in the battle against gum disease, the leading cause of tooth loss in adults and sometimes termed the most serious oral health problem of the 21st century.