Oral Regeneration and Rehabilitation Sciences

 IL-8 production following F. nuc stimulation of H400 cells by confocal microscopy

Our Oral Regeneration and Rehabilitation Sciences research utilises cutting-edge, multidisciplinary approaches to develop new therapies for repairing and rebuilding the human body, which has become damaged due to disease or trauma. Driven by our world class collaborative research, we bring together biological, physical and clinical scientists to develop and translate novel therapeutic technologies.

Dental, Implant & Bone Materials

The area of materials-cell/-tissue interactions and tissue engineering spans a range of activities aimed at clinical translation. Our implant integration work has recently been supported by a NIHR Clinician Scientist Award to explore implant driven tissue inflammation in collaboration with the periodontal research group.

This work is complemented by studies on osteoblast responses to micro- and nano-structures and overall this area aims to identify novel diagnostic markers of implant failure and develop implant materials with enhanced biocompatibility. In the bone biology area, studies are investigating the effects of altering the proton density on nanophase hydroxyapatite (HA) surfaces to enhance bone formation and reduce resorption and to determine how HA-based bone substitute graft materials are resorbed in the body.

In the area of resin materials development, key activities include studies optimising the setting reactions of photoactive resins and resin-based composites using innovative techniques to analyse the change in optical properties, curing light characteristics, mechanical response of nanoparticulate resin composites and resin-modified ‘sandwich’ restorations

In cement development, our focus is on the generation and characterisation of high-strength bioresorbable calcium phosphate bone cements and their functionalisation as drug release carriers. Other dental and orthopaedic related research is developing durable, rapid-setting, injectable cements for minimally-invasive surgery. Cement-based endodontic sealing materials are also being developed and optimised, including the development of methods for the accelerated setting of mineral trioxide cement aggregates for use in root canal therapy.

Stem Cell, Pulp, Bone & Mucosal Tissue Engineering

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.