Two NYUCD professors are partnering with researchers from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and Rutgers University on a $2.8 million grant from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, part of the NIH, to assess the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory, three-dimensional bone tissue scaffolds in regenerating missing sections of skull. The study is being led by Dr. Patrick O'Connor, an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at UMDNJ.
The NYU College of Dentistry, a subcontractor on the grant, received a $352,000 award. Dr. John Ricci, an Associate Professor of Biomaterials & Biomimetics, and Ms. Elizabeth Clark, an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Biomaterials & Biomimetics, will design and fabricate the calcium-phosphate scaffolds, which will contain a unique anti-inflammatory biomolecule known as a lipoxygenase inhibitor, as well as a novel anti-inflammatory polyaspirin polymer developed by Dr. Kathryn Uhrich, a Professor
of Chemistry and Chemical Biology and Dean of Mathe-matical and Physical Sciences at Rutgers University School of Arts and Sciences, which is also a subcontractor on the grant.
The scaffolds will release the anti-inflammatory biomolecule and polymer into the surrounding bone and skin. This is believed to be the first time that anti-inflammatory therapies, which have shown great promise for the stimulation of bone repair, are being used in scaffolds.
The scaffolds will be made using a robotic deposition printer, or Robocaster, that can generate layered, porous, three-dimensional scaffolds from data obtained from CT scans and MRIs of missing or damaged bone. Because the structural elements of the scaffolds are similar in size to bone structure (approximately one-quarter millimeter in diameter), the bone is expected to grow more quickly and accurately than bone generated from other random-orientation tissue scaffolds. NYUCD is believed to be the only dental school using the printer for bone regeneration.
In addition to skull repair, the scaffolds could have a variety of other craniofacial applications, including bone regeneration for periodontal disease patients, and cleft palate repair. Human trials would be needed before the scaffolds could be put into clinical use.
The scaffolds are being developed in collaboration with Dr. Van Thompson, Professor and Chair of the Department of Biomaterials & Biomimetics; Dr. Mitchell Pines, Clinical Professor of Biomaterials & Biomimetics; Dr. Racquel Z. LeGeros, Professor and Associate Chair of Biomaterials & Biomimetics and Linkow Professor of Implant Dentistry; and three second-year students from the MS in Biomaterials program: Dr. Afraa Murriky, Dr. Ioana Chesnoiu-Matei, and Mr. Lukasz Witek.