In the Pulp biology and regenerative endodontics research area, our long-standing programme on dental tissue regeneration is exploring the dentinogenic potentiality of stem/progenitor cells, their recruitment, tissue niches and matrix-mediated cell signalling, to provide a strong mechanistic foundation for clinical translation.
We are active members of Birmingham University Stem Cell Centre and national/international stem cell societies, which keeps us at the leading edge of developments within the field. This focus is complemented by our pioneering work on engineering of a physiological-like vital pulp tissue and is based on our mechanistic studies in pulp regeneration, identification of novel signalling pathways, matrix biology, and inflammation-regeneration interaction, which is central to clinical translation. Our pioneering work using pulp stem cell secretomes in in vivo animal models for nerve regeneration is showing significant promise for future translational benefit. Novel approaches utilising photobiomodulation (see below) and low intensity pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS) are also being developed from the underpinning science we are performing for clinical application.
Collaborative industrial research (funded by Orthopaedic Research UK) is also aimed at developing spring reinforced tissue engineered ‘bone-to-bone’ ligament replacements. Strategies for promoting osteogenic differentiation of bone marrow stem cells using different materials/processing, eg octacalcium phosphate scaffolds, are also being investigated along with utilising hydrogel tissue technologies and rapid prototyping for the development of next generation bone replacement materials. Hydrogel-based approaches for oral mucosa tissue engineering are also being examined to identify novel clinical delivery methodologies and provide disease relevant models.
Low Level Light / Laser Therapy (LLLT) uses light to stimulate cell and tissue responses (photobiomodulation) to promote healing, reduce inflammation and induce analgesia. Our work in this area is currently utilising high-throughput bespoke arrays to identify optimal approaches to deliver LED or laser light clinically for the repair of dental hard and soft tissues as well modulating inflammation and promoting regeneration of the oral mucosa and epithelium. This work has received significant support from the NIHR as well as from industry.