Research Highlights

Research Projects

RSDM’s Department of Oral Biology has received major federal funding and venture capitol. In 2017, we garnered a total of $5.3 million in funding, including monies from multi-year grants. Highlighted below are our major research projects.

Therapy for Cancer and Autoimmune Inflammatory Diseases  

In 2017, Dr. Scott Kachlany received a $4.4 million commitment in venture capital last year to bring a potential therapy for cancer and autoimmune diseases closer to human clinical trials. Kachlany’s company, Actinobac Biomed Inc., received funding from the California-based Kairos Ventures, which will pay for the final stages of preclinical development before his patented therapeutic technology, called Leukothera, is tested on humans. Leukothera is based on Kachlany’s discovery that an oral bacterium that causes periodontal disease produces protein that kills leukemia cells in animals. It’s also a potential therapy for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, and HIV infection. In 2014, Kachlany received nearly $1 million in NIH funds for research involving Leukothera.

Predatory Bacteria  vs. Drug Resistant Pathogens

For nearly a decade, Dr. Daniel Kadouri’s research has mined the potential of predatory bacteria – microbes that devour germs immune to antibiotics. He works to halt a global epidemic of drug-resistant bacteria that has led to a sharp rise in untreatable illnesses.  His work, a collaboration with Dr. Nancy Connell of Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, is funded by a $7.2 million cooperative agreement between Rutgers University, the U.S. Military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Pathogen Predators program and the Army Research Office (ARO).

Treatment of Caries and a Rare Periodontal Disease

Dr. Daniel Fine, chair of RSDM’s Oral Biology Department, is known for his visionary work within the field.  Funded by a $3.2 million in NIH grant he received in 2014, Fine is continuing a multi-year study of Local Aggressive Periodontitis (LAP), a rare form of gum disease that affects two percent of African-American children ages 11 to 17.  He’s developing a tool to detect the disease up to nine months before bone loss appears in x-rays.  In addition, he has been working on development of a synthetic peptide that fights cavities.

Using Stem Cells to Regenerate Dental Pulp

Emi Shimizu’s research could someday transform a procedure dental patients dread: the root canal. Shimizu, a faculty member at Rutgers School of Dental Medicine (RSDM), is studying how to use stem cells to regenerate dental pulp rather than removing it during root canal treatment. Her work involves isolating patient stem cells, which can be drawn from skin or hair, and cultivating them to form the vascular network that comprises the nervous system of dentin, the hard bony tissue beneath tooth enamel.  This would result in reduced infections and a more streamlined root canal procedure. Shimizu received a $1.5 million five-year National Institutes of Health grant to pursue her research. She is the only researcher in the world using stem cells for this purpose.