Houston Dentistry Volume 5 Issue 1 - Page 15

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of a reliable source for minor salivary glands : patients undergoing surgery for accidents impacting the face .
“ The minor salivary glands we focus on number in the hundreds to up to a thousand throughout the oral cavity and throat ,” he said . “[ These glands ] are tiny , maybe about 2 mm in diameter . They look like a single , tiny grape and are white and cloudy .”
Sjögren ’ s syndrome is an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks healthy cells in salivary glands .
The idea to harvest those cells came from Professor Mark Wong , DDS , chair and program director of the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery .
“ We were discussing how Dr . Farach- Carson was interested in salivary gland regeneration , but it wasn ’ t easy to access the major salivary glands ,” Young said . “ Dr . Wong mentioned how we cut through the lower lip mucosa all the time in order to access the underlying mandible when we need to fix fractures or resect tumors . When you make an incision in the lower lip , it ’ s easy to find minor salivary glands within the incision site .”
Mary ( Cindy ) Farach-Carson , PhD
The OMSF grant will allow Farach- Carson and Young to validate harvested cells as a viable tissue source . In addition , they will explore co-culturing progenitor cells with nerve cells as a way to give the body control of moisture production in the mouth — something essential for quality of life .
“ We want to make sure that when we put our cells back , the patient doesn ’ t start to
Simon Young , DDS , MD , PhD
drool ,” Farach-Carson said . “ If you don ’ t get the nerves connected , yes , you can restore the flow , but you won ’ t be able to control the saliva production .”
The research is expected to take a year to complete and is currently ongoing .



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Patients generally consent “ since we ’ re in that location anyway for many of our procedures ,” Young said . So far , patients ranging in age from 18 to 82 have contributed healthy tissue samples for therapeutic research .
After the operating room , the tissue goes to the lab , where researchers work to isolate stem progenitor cells .
Jeremy Brown JD , Joe Piazza DDS , Terry Watson DDS , & Frank Brown JD
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