NIDCR News 2020

Aided by artificial intelligence, a cross-disciplinary team of experts in materials science and data science designed a dental adhesive with bacteria-fighting properties that may extend the lifespan of tooth fillings, most of which last only 5 to 10 years.
A type of artificial intelligence called deep learning successfully detected the presence of molecular and genetic alterations based only on tumor images across 14 cancer types, including those of the head and neck. The findings could lead to faster and cheaper personalized cancer care.
NIDCR’s Peter Burbelo adapted his light-based antibody-detection system to measure antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. His data is helping scientists answer a wide range of questions about the coronavirus.
A licensed dentist, Dr. D’Souza is renowned for her research in craniofacial development, genetics, tooth development, and regenerative dental medicine. She is expected to begin her new role as the NIDCR director in fall 2020.
A drug targeting an aging-related molecule reversed periodontal disease in older mice. The results point to clues for improving oral health in older adults.
Scientists imaged monkeys swallowing by using advanced visualization techniques that captured jaw and tongue movements in unprecedented detail. The findings could lead to better treatments for swallowing disorders.
Scientists used a combination of advanced microscopy and chemical detection techniques to uncover the structural makeup of human tooth enamel at unprecedented atomic resolution. The findings could lead to a better understanding of how tooth decay develops and might be prevented.
Scientists identified a group of neurons in mice that blunt pain by dampening the activity of multiple pain-processing regions of the brain. The neurons could be promising targets for new non-addictive therapies for chronic pain.
Tiny molecular tweaks to enzymes can broadly affect human health. NIDCR’s Nadine Samara is studying the structure of a family of enzymes called glycosyltransferases, which could be promising targets for treating oral microbial infections.
Ever used a tongue scraper in your oral hygiene routine? The image shows what might come off—an array of tightly layered microbes called a biofilm. In an NIDCR-funded study, scientists imaged fluorescently labeled bacteria scraped from the tongues of human volunteers.
Making more durable fillings that can withstand the tough environment of the mouth takes some chemical ingenuity. Research supported by NIDCR is addressing the challenge.
An NIDCR-supported study uncovered a new role for nerves in oral cancer progression. Tumors send messages that transform neurons into cancer-promoting agents; targeting this crosstalk could lead to more effective cancer treatments.
Whether it’s saliva, insulin, or sweat, we rely on our secretions. It matters that just the right amounts of just the right proteins go where they should. Secretory failures lead to diseases, including dry mouth disorders.

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