Houston Dentistry Volume 5 Issue 1 - Page 14

UTHealth School of Dentistry at Houston


Farach-Carson , Young win grant to study possible treatment for xerostomia

by Kyle Rogers
The OMS Foundation has awarded a $ 75,000 grant to UTHealth School of Dentistry at Houston for development of stem cell therapy for xerostomia ( severe dry mouth ) using minor salivary glands .
Professor Mary ( Cindy ) Farach-Carson , PhD , director of clinical and translational research , is the study ’ s principal investigator , with Simon Young , DDS , MD , PhD , assistant professor in the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery , serving as the co-principal investigator .
According to the National Cancer Institute , about 50,000 people in the U . S . are diagnosed with head and neck cancer each year . Radiation treatment often damages the salivary glands , especially in older people .
“ Most of our work to date has been to try to restore salivary stem progenitor cell populations in post-radiated parotid glands to see if we can put functional cells in there to replace those the treatment has killed ,” Farach-Carson said . “ Scientists , ourselves included , have been trying to accomplish this for over 15 years .”
She and Young , an oral and maxillofacial surgeon with a bioengineering background , share an office in the same suite and frequently talked about the problem .
“ We thought , ‘ What if we can take the knowledge we ’ ve learned from these radiation patients and apply it to patients with Sjögren ’ s syndrome ?’” Farach-Carson said . “ That affects millions of people a year , not just 50,000 . The biology is more complicated , but we ’ d be able to help a lot more people .”
Sjögren ’ s syndrome is an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks healthy cells in salivary glands .
Young and his oral and maxillofacial surgery colleagues knew
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