A collaborative, interdisciplinary group spearheaded by the Department of Orthodontics is using a translational approach to accelerate laboratory discoveries into fully realized, optimal patient therapeutics. The group, known as the Consortium for Translational Orthodontic Research, or CTOR, is codirected by Dr. Cristina Teixeira, Associate Professor of Orthodontics and of Basic Science & Craniofacial Biology, and Dr. Mani Alikhani, Assistant Professor of Orthodontics.
In addition to Dr. Teixeira and Dr. Alikhani, faculty participating in CTOR include Dr. Louis Terracio, Vice Dean for Research; Dr. George Cisneros, Professor and Chair of the Department of Orthodontics; Dr. Nicola C. Partridge, Professor and Chair of the Department of Basic Science & Craniofacial Biology; Dr. Tim Bromage, Professor of Biomaterials & Biomimetics and of Basic Science & Craniofacial Biology; Dr. Ron Craig, Associate Professor of Basic Science & Craniofacial Biology and member of the PEARL Network Executive Management Team; and Dr. Olivier Nicolay, Clinical Associate Professor of Orthodontics and Director of the Advanced Education Program in Orthodontics. One of the primary goals of CTOR is to actively involve faculty, predoctoral students, postgraduate specialty training students, and MS and PhD candidates in translational research.
For the past three years, Drs. Teixeira and Alikhani have been studying skeletal development and tooth movement in animals to determine how to accelerate tooth remodeling and thereby shorten the length of orthodontic treatment time. The question they asked themselves was: "What is the easiest way to induce a controlled, therapeutic inflamma-tory response in order to increase the rate of bone remodeling?" The answer they came up with was very simple: osteo-perforation, or the creation of tiny holes through the cortical surface of the bone without the need for gingival flap surgery. Using this technique on animals, they found that bone remodeling accelerates significantly; as a result, teeth moved almost twice as quickly as in traditional methods, and with no side effects. The findings from their study have been accepted for publication by the Journal of Dental Research.
Next, Drs. Teixeira and Alikhani developed the protocol for a study that will allow them to translate these findings into clinical trials on patients. The study, which has received Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval, will use 30 human patients who fit specific clinical trial criteria. Drs. Teixeira and Alikhani are currently recruiting patients for the study.
In the interim, the two investigators have received two patents, one for their osteo-perforation technique and another for a device that uses high-frequency mechanical stimulation to generate bone around teeth. They are currently awaiting FDA approval of the device.
"Our orthodontic faculty," says Dr. Alikhani, "have, in essence, organized the first orthodontic practice-based research network (PBRN) in order to conduct this clinical trial on human subjects. The CTOR network will be part of the PEARL (Practitioners Engaged in Applied Research and Learning) Network at NYUCD."
Adds Dr. Teixeira, "We also train faculty from international and local universities who are interested in being exposed to cutting-edge research and then returning to their countries to share their new knowledge with their colleagues. To date, we have had visiting faculty from South Korea, Portugal, and Brazil."
"As a result of being the first department of orthodontics to successfully bridge basic science and clinical practice," observes Dr. Cisneros, "the NYU Department of Orthodontics has become a leader in the world in this area. And consistent with its name, CTOR, this is a true example of translational research success. Drs. Alikhani and Teixeira are two of our best and brightest young researchers and NYUCD is privileged to have them on the faculty."
The two investigators have received two patents, one for their osteo-perforation technique and another for a device that uses high-frequency mechanical stimulation to generate bone around teeth. They are currently awaiting FDA approval of the device.