Dental School

Craniofacial Biology

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Staff Research Publications 


The overall goal of the Craniofacial Biology Research Program is to understand the cellular molecular mechanism of oral biology in order to support and aid oral tissue regeneration and healing.

Craniofacial Biology 

Program leader: Dr Mithran Goonewardene

Program members:  Dr Mike Razza, Dr Estabelle Ang

HDR Postgraduate students: Dr Danny Yang
DClinDent students: Dr Christophe Duigou
DMD students: Tracy Wong, Cindy Martin, Calista Ho

Collaborators: Professor Jiake Xu (UWA), Professor Ming Hao Zheng (UWA), Associate Professor Nathan Pavlos (UWA), Dr Sipin Zhu (Zhejiang University), Prof Xuebin Yang (Leeds University) and Prof Wen-Mei Wang (Nanjing University)

Industry Partners: Nil

Research Program Objectives

The Craniofacial Biology Research Program objectives and aims:

  • To extract and culture periodontal ligament cell from periodontal membrane explant and to select stem cells using flow cytometry
  • To validate stem cell population within the periodontal ligament
  • To investigate the effects of tooth movement and distraction osteogenesis using mechanical stimulation on bone in vitro model
  • To investigate the dose-dependent effect of BMP2, 4, EGF, NGF and FGF 2 and 7 on periodontal ligament fibroblast
  • To investigate the effect of NGF, EGF and FGF (2 and 7) in replanted rat molars in a rat model  

Research Program Summary

The Craniofacial Biology Research Program undertakes novel regenerative medicine approach to translate fundamental scientific research into direct clinical treatments and outcomes.

The Craniofacial Biology Research Program adopts the latest stem cell research findings to identify potential source of stem cell isolation from the orofacial region, in particular from the periodontal ligament (PDL) region. The identification of potential stem cells from these regions not only provides a source of self-replenishment but potentially it can be extracted for regeneration of other regions. Periodontal ligament source of stem cells have been documented in the literature adopting similar isolation strategies as to bone marrow stem cells. To date, with flow cytometry (QEII Medical Centre, Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis, UWA) and antibodies immune-selection stem cells can be identified among the periodontal ligament fibroblasts. This work has also earned a collaboration award (UWA) between The Craniofacial Biology Research Program, the University of Leeds and Nanjing University.

In addition, chemical stimuli such as growth factors and mechanical stimulus have been documented to play an important role in tissue responses.  Work carried out by The Craniofacial Biology Research Program also aims to investigate the effects of growth factors on tissue response and bone regeneration. Chemical stimuli such as growth factors can have a significant impact on tissue regeneration. The potential of nerve growth factor beta (NGF-), epidermal growth factor (EGF), fibroblast growth factor 2 and 7 (FGF2 and FGF7) and bone morphogenetic protein 2 and 4 (BMP2 and BMP4) to enhance oral tissue regeneration has yet to be thoroughly investigated.  

Current Research Projects 

  • Identification, cultivation and isolation of periodontal ligament derived stem cells (PDLSCs)
  • Effects of chemical stimuli (NGF, BMP (2 and 4), FGF (2 and 7) and EGF) on oral tissue regeneration
  • Effects of mechanical stimuli (tooth movement and distraction osteogenesis) on oral tissue regeneration
  • Tissue regeneration in oral health, an animal study