NIDCR News 2021

A drug that blocks an immune substance called oncostatin M reduced scratching in a mouse model of chronic itch, suggesting a treatment strategy for persistent itchy skin conditions.
NIDCR-funded researchers are developing a color-changing “smart” mask to detect viruses like SARS-CoV-2 in wearers’ saliva or breath. The device could one day help with monitoring infection and preventing outbreaks.
Researchers on an NIDCR-funded study have developed a hand-held device that rapidly and reliably detects SARS-CoV-2 in saliva. The portable sensor could eventually be used for low-cost COVID-19 testing in a variety of locations, including dental and health care settings, schools, the travel industry, and at home.
Neuroscientist Yuanyuan “Kevin” Liu studies the chit-chat between the brain and spinal cord to understand how the brain perceives touch and pain. His research could reveal potential targets in the brain that act as dials to turn down the volume on pain.
Biochemist Myung Hee Park reflects on her 42-year career at NIDCR, where she pioneered research on a molecular pathway vital for nearly all life. Her findings could shed light on new approaches to treat certain cancers and neurodevelopmental disorders.
NIDCR dentist-scientist Jacqueline Mays is unravelling why bone marrow transplant patients sometimes develop chronic oral graft-versus-host disease, a condition where the new immune system attacks the mouth. Her findings may help scientists find better treatments and diagnostic tools.
NIDCR researchers mapped 120,000 individual cells in the oral mucous membrane, revealing a new role for connective tissue cells in orchestrating immune responses linked to gum disease. The detailed catalog of the mouth will serve as a rich resource for the oral research community.
As a youth, intramural researcher Eva Mezey remembers her mother, a scientist, theorizing about the possibility of a lymphatic drainage system in the brain. Over 50 years later, Mezey presents evidence of its existence.
Watch a fibroblast creep and crawl through a web of proteins. To move about the body, these common cells use methods that are distinct from cancer cells. The finding could shed light on ways to thwart spread of cancers, including those of the head and neck.
Early-stage researchers discuss their experiences in MIND the Future, a year-long program that provides one-on-one mentoring and career-related training to individuals from diverse backgrounds to ease the transition to research independence and to enhance the diversity of the dental, oral, and craniofacial research workforce.
NIDCR physician-scientist Alison Boyce is searching for treatments for Fibrous Dysplasia/McCune-Albright syndrome, a rare disease of the bones, endocrine system, and skin that can impair quality of life.
An international team of scientists has found evidence that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, infects cells in the mouth. This new information on the mouth’s involvement in coronavirus infection could inform strategies to reduce viral transmission within and outside the body.
In a review article, researchers describe how dental practitioners and occupational therapists can work together to make dental visits more soothing for children with autism spectrum disorder.
A recent study adds an unexpected twist to what was known about the immune disturbances that allow fungus to take hold in the mouth. The findings could lead to better therapies for fungal infections.
NIDCR immunologist Roxane Tussiwand studies how molecular cues shape the development of immune cells. Her findings could help scientists better understand infectious diseases, cancer, and autoimmune disorders.
In an NIDCR-supported study, scientists set out to develop a better material for regenerating bone in the mouth. Twenty years later, after their research took some twists and turns, they invented an innovative adhesive for oral surgery—inspired by slugs with elements from shellfish and seaweed.

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