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Hydrogel Biomaterials May Help Restore Salivary Glands and Lost Facial Tissue

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Two University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) projects have received funding from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research to continue studies of hydrogel therapies. The teams hope the projects will lead to interventions that help patients develop new salivary glands and restore muscle loss due to facial injuries. The new wave of funding will help both studies move closer to clinical trials.

The $11.6 million grant supports the Center for Dental, Oral and Craniofacial Tissue and Organ Regeneration (C-DOCTOR), a consortium of six California institutions, to help expand regenerative therapies for craniofacial and dental defects. Co-led by UCSF, University of Southern California, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UCLA and Stanford University, C-DOCTOR translates regenerative research into new approaches for treating dental, oral and craniofacial tissues.

An injectable hydrogel study led by Sarah Knox, PhD, an associate professor in the USCF School of Dentistry and a member of the Eli & Edythe Broad Center for Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research, seeks to activate stem-cell-mediated regeneration of the salivary gland. The process could translate to treatments for patients with Sjögren’s syndrome or experiencing xerostomia due to head and/or neck radiation therapy. The injectable hydrogel is currently in early animal trials.

Together with a team from the University of Virginia, Jason Pomerantz, MD, a UCSF associate professor of surgery and member of the Eli & Edythe Broad Center for Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research, is developing a bio-inspired hydrogel as part of a project led by UC Berkeley. This hydrogel is in early animal trials and is intended to assist with muscle regeneration in severe cranio-maxillofacial injuries.

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