A dentistry professor has received a $1 million grant to continue his research into restoring damaged dental roots using ultrasound and stem cells.
Dr Tarek El-Bialy is an associate professor of orthodontics and biomedical engineering with department of dentistry at the University of Alberta in Canada.
He was awarded the three-year grant by the Qatar National Research Foundation and will work with the Queen Dental Centre in Doha, Qatar.
His research project, entitled Using Pluripotent Gingival Cells and Ultrasound for Dental/
Periodontal Tissue Engineering uses the subject’s own oral tissue stem cells and ultrasound for dental and periodontal tissue engineering and repair.
The study will be a joint venture between the University of Alberta’s Dentistry Department and the Queen Dental Center in Doha, Qatar.
The QNFR’s and Queen Dental Center’s interest comes from the opportunity to be one of the only two countries in the world that could offer dental stem cell treatment.
Dr El-Bialy’s grant application was peer reviewed by five experts.
He said: ‘In my first application I didn’t realise the five reviewers were internationally recognised researchers from recognised institutes all over the world.’
Dr El-Bialy hit the headlines four years ago after his research into using ultrasound to regenerate teeth was made public.
His earlier study showed that low-intensity pulsed ultrasound, applied to teeth for 20 minutes a day for four weeks, massages the gums to stimulate jaws, thus encouraging growth in the roots of teeth and aiding healing in dental tissue.
The device subsequently developed helps prevent further degeneration of dental roots.
With the new research grant, he plans to study how a patient’s own oral tissue stem cells can aid regrowth of roots.
The work is particularly important for people who wear braces, which can cause root degeneration, he said.
If the research is successful, the treatment could also help people suffering from bone loss due to gum disease.
When the three years pre-clinical studies are completed and results published, Dr El-Bialy’s next research goal is to start clinical trials with humans.