By MARCENE ROBINSON
Published February 2, 2023
UB researcher Hacer Aksel has received a grant from the American Association of Endodontists’ Foundation for Endodontics to investigate a potential biomarker to support the success of vital pulp therapy, an alternative to root canal treatment that aims to preserve and maintain the healthy pulp tissue in damaged teeth.
The minimally invasive treatment is dependent on the inflammatory status and healing capacity of dental pulp. The enzyme, matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9, has been suggested as a potential biomarker for predicting these factors, but it’s effects on cellular functions remains unknown, says Aksel, clinical assistant professor of periodontics and endodontics in the School of Dental Medicine.
The research will investigate the effects of MMP-9 on multiple types of cells involved in the pulpal healing process, including dental pulp stem cells, inflammatory cells and endothelial cells — the cells that line blood vessels.
Findings from the study will aid development of novel biomaterials for regenerative vital pulp therapies, says Aksel.
“This project will provide a basis for designing a new approach and treatment modality for vital pulp therapies,” she says. “The long-term goal is to explore immunomodulatory hydrogel-based biomaterial to resolve pulpal inflammation while maintaining cellular functions to repair and regenerate the pulp-dentin complex during the treatment of deep caries. This novel approach may open new avenues to treat other MMP-associated inflammatory diseases.”