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Dental professor hopes NIH grant will lead to new therapies for periodontal disease

Periodontal DiseaseCreighton University School of Dentistry Associate Professor D. Roselyn Cerutis, PhD, has received a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study a potential therapy that may help reduce inflammation and bone loss in periodontal (gum) disease.

Cerutis, an associate professor of oral biology, was awarded a three-year $431,348 NIH grant to investigate a molecule in the body called lysophosphatidic acid (LPA). Using a mouse model of periodontal disease, Cerutis will determine whether one of the receptors for lysophosphatidic acid, LPA1, is the primary regulator of both inflammation and bone loss in periodontal disease.

CerutisCerutis said the LPA system has been extensively researched in cancer and heart disease, but not in periodontal disease.

“We want to know if blocking or reducing LPA production in the mouth will help control inflammation and bone loss of periodontal disease,” said Cerutis.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, half of American adults age 30 and older have periodontal disease. Of particular note is that periodontal disease is also connected to, and exacerbates, chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.

“We now know that the health of your mouth is critical to your overall health,” she said. Cerutis has been studying the role of LPA in periodontal disease with collaborators in the Dental School for the past 20 years.

“We are the only researchers worldwide who have dedicated ourselves systematically to a long-term research program looking at LPA’s actions in the mouth.”

Cerutis is hopeful the NIH funded study will lead to a better understanding of the role of LPA in periodontal disease, and to new therapies that target the inflammatory process in the mouth

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