Engineering Tissue Constructs
NIDCR encourages basic and translational research that takes advantage of advances in biology, chemistry, material science, nanotechnology, computer science, and engineering to develop tissue constructs that mimic structure and function of native oral and craniofacial tissues including bone, cartilage, skeletal muscle, vascular and neural components of craniofacial skeleton and temporomandibular joint, teeth, periodontal ligament, oral mucosa and salivary glands. Areas of interest include but are not limited to:
- Cell-instructive and structural scaffolds, including biomimetic and nanotechnology-based scaffolds capable of delivering bioactive molecules at specific concentrations in a temporally and spatially defined fashion and to confer external geometry, internal architecture and mechanical properties to engineered constructs.
- Scaffolds fabricated from smart materials able to respond to environmental cues.
- Three-dimensional in vitro bioreactors, including nanotechnology and microfluidics-based bioreactors that recapitulate normal and pathological tissue development, structure and function.
- Medium- and high-throughput assay systems, including nanotechnology and microfluidics- based microphysiological systems (a.k.a. Tissue Chips) for drug screening, studying mechanisms of disease and other applications.
- Tissue and organ biofabrication or “printing” technologies that use layered manufacturing processes, such as rapid prototyping.
- Functional dynamic imaging of the dental and craniofacial tissues.
- Application of mechanical forces and electrical stimulation in shaping functional characteristics of engineered tissues.
- Isolation, characterization, expansion, and differentiation of stem and progenitor cells for engineering of dental, oral and craniofacial (DOC) tissues.
- Optimization, standardization and side-by-side comparison and quality control of stem and progenitor cell sources for use in DOC tissue engineering and regeneration.
- Engineering of composite multi-tissue constructs, such as vascularized and innervated bone and skeletal muscle.
Functional Integration of Engineered Constructs into Native Host Tissue
NIDCR encourages research concerning functional and structural integration between the engineered tissue constructs and host DOC tissues. Areas of interest include but are not limited to:
- Optimization of grafting strategies of engineered tissue constructs.
- Biocompatibility, immunogenicity, biotoxicity, and biodegradability of tissue engineering biomaterials and scaffolds in animal models, including pre-clinical large animal models.
- Vascularization and innervation of grafted engineered constructs.
- Augmentation of hierarchical inter-tissue interfaces in tooth, craniofacial skeleton and temporomandibular joint.
- Cell tracing approaches to monitor in vivo cell proliferation, differentiation, reprogramming, survival and migration.
- Small and large animal models to assess short- and long-term structural and functional integrity of engineered tissue constructs in vivo.
Mechanistic studies of DOC Tissue Damage and Regeneration
NIDCR encourages research on cellular and molecular mechanisms of DOC tissue damage, degeneration, aging and regeneration. Areas of interest include but are not limited to:
- Destruction and regeneration of the periodontium and inflammatory bone erosion associated with periodontal disease.
- Distinct molecular and cellular mechanisms of intramembranous and endochondral bone regeneration.
- Osteogenesis, angiogenesis and matrix remodeling during bone regeneration.
- Augmentation of craniofacial bone regeneration.
- Characterization of in situ stem and progenitor populations and stem cell niches that contribute to tissue regeneration of DOC tissues.
- Responses of fibrocartilage to injury and trauma.
- Dentin-pulp complex homeostasis, injury, regeneration and other types of therapy.
- Inflammation resolution, wound healing, connective tissue remodeling and scarless wound healing.
- Impact of biophysical forces on tissue damage and regeneration.
Promoting Endogenous Host Tissue Healing and Regeneration
NIDCR encourages research that takes advantage of advances in biology, chemistry, material science, nanotechnology, computer science, and engineering to facilitate regeneration of endogenous DOC tissues. This part of the program welcomes basic and translational research directed at patterning of host tissue microenvironment to resolve acute and chronic inflammation, to reduce tissue fibrosis, promote vascularization, innervation and scarless wound healing. Areas of interest include but are not limited to:
- Targeted and controlled delivery, including temporal, spatial, and combinatorial delivery to tissues of therapeutic molecules, genes and gene products that modify endogenous tissue microenvironment.
- Scaffolds and biomolecules that guide self-organization of endogenous or exogenous cells into tissues in vivo.
- Recapitulation of structure and function of native stem cell niches in vivo.
- Directed cell homing and migration and reprogramming in vivo.