Periodontal Disease: Engineering the Future of Care
In the 1950s, soon after NIDCR’s founding, millions of Americans often flipped on their black-and-white tube televisions and watched commercials that warned of a tongue-twisting condition called gingivitis. As the ads warned, gingivitis was step one on the road to chronic gum, or periodontal, disease and tooth loss. more...Tooth Development
Is it possible to build a tooth? That’s a question that many giants of 20th century dental research no doubt considered, and it’s a conceptual puzzle that continues to capture the imaginations of the nation’s oral health scientists. But there is a key difference between the musings of then and now. Today’s scientists possess for the first time the needed laboratory tools to plumb the molecular depths and developmental biology of tooth formation, and some already have begun to do so in earnest. more...Neural Crest Cells: The First Mystery of Craniofacial Development
In 1868, the Swiss embryologist Wilhelm His spotted a thin band of previously undetected cells bunched between fetal ectoderm and the inchoate neural tube of a developing chick. Dr. His called his find the Zwischenstrang, or “the intermediate cord.” By the end of the century, the German word Zwischenstrang had been scrapped for the more descriptive English term “neural crest cells,” denoting the geographic crest of the neural tube as their site of origin. The cells also had become a topic of controversy. Reports had begun to trickle into the scientific literature that neural crest cells in some fish gave rise to neurons and nerve fibers of the cranium, while those in certain salamanders were proposed to produce cartilage of the head and dentin forming cells of the teeth. Many biologists claimed this was preposterous. more...Antibody Technique Shows Diagnostic Promise
In the February 1 issue of the journal Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
, a team of NIH researchers report early results with a tremendously sensitive and accurate new diagnostic technique to quantify antibodies in blood and saliva. Known by the acronym LIPS, the technique performed without error in a small validation study involving a well-known antigen that is frequently elevated in people with a rare disorder called Stiff-Person Syndrome. Additional articles will be published in the months ahead for more common autoimmune conditions, ranging from primary Sjögren’s syndrome to type-1 diabetes. The Inside Scoop
spoke to two of the authors to learn more about the technique and its potential. They are NIDCR scientists Dr. Peter Burbelo, lead author on the study, and Dr. Michael Iadarola, the paper’s senior author. more...Localized Aggressive Periodontitis: Pinning Down the Long Suspected Role of Aa
For dentists who treat an occasional child with localized aggressive periodontitis, or LAP, the research points to the likely culprit as a bacterium with a long name, Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans
). But the case remains far from air tight. Absent from the scientific literature are clinical studies that track the natural history of the disease in children and whether Aa
indeed plays a role in its onset and progression. In the December 2007 issue of the Journal of Clinical Microbiology
, a team of NIDCR supported scientists offer the first results from a natural history study. While a final verdict remains to be rendered, this study and a similar one in Morocco offer stronger evidence that Aa
might just be a cause. To learn more about this study, the Inside Scoop spoke with Dr. Daniel Fine, a scientist at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark and the lead author on the JCM paper. more...
TP53 and the Prognosis of Head and Neck Cancer
In the December 20, 2007 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, a team of NIDCR grantees and colleagues evaluated the prognostic value of TP53 mutations in 420 head-and-neck cancer patients treated with surgery only and whose survival was tracked for several years thereafter. Detecting TP53 alterations in the tumors of 53 percent of participants, the scientists found that collectively these mutations were associated with decreased overall survival. This was particularly so for a subset of TP53 mutations that affected the ability of its protein to function as a transcription factor. To hear more about this paper, the Inside Scoop spoke with Dr. Wayne Koch, the senior author on the paper and a scientist and head-and-neck cancer surgeon at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. more....