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Eastman Dental Institute

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Biomedical Research Centre projects

In 2017 UCL Eastman Dental Hospital and Institute were awarded £2million in funding from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) in order to support a ground-breaking biomedical research programme in the field of Oral Health and Disease. The funding is part a £111.5 million award won by the UCLH Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), whose mission is to accelerate the translation of world-leading biomedical research into new treatments for patients. This is the first time that UCLH BRC funding has been allocated specifically to an Oral Health & Disease Theme.

The programme is focussed on oral cancer and precancer, facial pain, chronic oral infections and inflammation, salivary gland and jaw bone disorders and dental caries. Projects fall under four different categories:

  • Oral infection/inflammation and systemic health & disease;
  • Oral cancer and oral diseases in cancer patients and survivors;
  • Oral and facial pain;
  • Dental tissue defects and loss;

For information about the BRC oral health programme please contact Professor Stefano Fedele

Gun disease and diabetes

Gum disease and its relationship to diabetes

Our research suggests that intensively treating gum disease can help patients with diabetes control the condition.  In a recent trial, patients with poorly-controlled Type -2 diabetes who received intensive gum therapy were better off in terms of blood glucose levels, kidney and blood vessel function. A reduction in inflammation around the body was also observe.
Lead researcher: Professor Francesco D'Aiuto

Lady in oral pain

Tackling fibrosis of the neck and mouth

A new investigation into the treatment of fibrosis - a common, permanent and adverse effect of radiotherapy. The ‘PIT-STOP’ trial will specifically look at the effect of combining two medications, Pentoxifylline and Vitamin E, to reduce soft tissue fibrosis of the mouth and throat in head and neck cancer (HNC) survivors.
Lead researcher: Professor Stefano Fedele

Sjogren's syndrome

Sjogrens medical device study (SALRISE)

Sjogren’s syndrome, the UK’s second most common rheumatic disease,  is a debilitating, chronic autoimmune disorder causing persistent dry mouth, dry eyes fatigue and joint pain.  We will test a novel treatment which uses electrosimulation to increase saliva production. In collaboration with specialists from eight UK hospitals..
Lead researcher: Professor Stefano Fedele

bacteria

Light-activated antimicrobial therapy and systemic health

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a promising new strategy for the treatment of periodontitis. Light-activated antimicrobial agents can inactivate microbial virulence factors in addition to killing the pathogenic microorganisms; this would represent an advantage over conventional treatment options in controlling periodontitis. This project aims at testing in a randomized clinical trial the impact of PDT as adjunctive to mechanical periodontal therapy.
Lead researcher: Professor Francesco D'Aiuto

digital scan of skull

Epigenetic therapy for high risk dysplasia

Up to 25% of individuals with severe oral dysplasia will progress to developing invasive oral cancer. Treatment has the potential to alter the natural course of the disease and prevent this; which in turn would translate into a significant reduction in oral cancer mortality. However, there remains little evidence that current treatments are effective. This project will investigate the effects of epigenetic therapy with Sodium Valproate in reducing the risk of progression.
Lead researcher: Professor Stefano Fedele

dental digital scanner

Novel non invasive diagnostic device for oral cancer

Oral cancer is often diagnosed at an advanced stage, when the disease has spread and curative treatment becomes difficult and complex. A number of strategies to diagnose oral cancer earlier have been attempted, unfortunately with no notable success. This proof of concept study will test a novel non-invasive device as diagnostic tool for oral cancer and pre-cancer (dysplasia). With UCL’s Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering. 
Lead researcher: Professor Stefano Fedele

Oral microbiome research

The environment and the oral microbiome

Our environment and immediate family significantly influence our oral microbiome, where as our own genes play almost no role. We currently know that adults have a relatively stable oral microbiome.  We hope to discover if the oral microbiome in adolescents is more dynamic and determine how much influence environment has on the bacterial composition of their mouths. 
Lead researchers: Professor Andrew Smith and Professor Dave Spratt

mouth ulcer

Treating patients with Oral Lichen Planus

Creams and ointments to treat Oral Lichen Planus can be difficult to apply and there remains no topical corticosteroid formulation that is formally approved for intra-oral use. This study will investigate the efficacy of a novel mucosal adhesive patch with slow-delivery of a potent corticosteroid agent in controlling painful symptoms and inducing healing of lichenoid ulceration.
Lead researcher: Professor Stefano Fedele

Trimgeminal Neuralgia

The Use of Imaging in Trimgeminal Neuralgia

Using new ways of MRI imaging to learn more about the causes of trigeminal neuralgia, a rare form of severe facial pain. Diffusion weighted imaging can be applied to assess the microstructural integrity of white matter tracts and cranial nerves. Researchers will run a pilot study in ten patients to determine how these images change after surgery and evaluate the possibility of using this type of imaging as a biomarker. 
Lead researcher: Professor Joanna Zakrezewska

Paediatric dentist at work

Novel fillings materials trial

With the phase out of amalgam fillings, there is a growing need for more effective fillings for caries affected teeth in children. This study is part of on-going work to optimise formulations that will be able to be placed directly onto disease affected dental caries without anaesthetic, drilling or the complex bonding steps currently required with conventional tooth-coloured composite fillings.
Lead researcher: Professor Anne Young

Care home intervention

Reducing sugar intake in care homes

This is a short project via the ‘pathway to future grant proposals’, aiming to develop a larger grant proposal for a feasibility study of an intervention to reduce sugar intake among older adults living in care homes. Objectives are to scope the relevant literature;  to undertake qualitative research with care home residents, service providers, relevant experts and stakeholders; and to use the findings from this preliminary work to develop an intervention and grant application.
Lead researcher: Dr Anja Heilmann

Dental chair

Preventive Interventions in primary dental care settings

Further developing UCL Dental Public Health's translational research on preventive interventions. To include a look at the potential role of the dental team in addressing oral health inequalities amongst their patient population. Plus exploratory work on the interface between oral health and mental health. We will also be developing a proposal to test a brief alcohol advice intervention. 
Lead researcher: Professor Richard Watt