CLEVELAND Studying how the mouth wards off diseases will have implications for understanding overall how people stay healthy. The Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine will use a five-year, $9.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health's National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Researchthe largest grant ever in the dental school's 117-year history to study oral health as one of the human body's frontline defenses against infections.
Under the direction of lead investigator Aaron Weinberg, professor and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at the dental school, a team of 22 researchers will unravel changes in the human body's innate immune system in HIV-infected people on antiretroviral therapies to provide new insights into how the body keeps us stay healthy. "New evidence surfaces repeatedly that oral health plays an important and integral role in general health," says Jerold Goldberg, dean of the dental school. "The award from the NIH demonstrates the importance of working across disciplines and professions to answer complex questions."
A multidisciplinary team from dentistry and medicine will discover why HIV-infected humans receiving the class of drugs referred to as highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) have increased the incidence of oral complications, such as a quadrupled rate of contracting human papillomavirus (HPV). This virus is more frequently associated with the genital tract and is now being seen in the mouth. Warts produced by HPV can lead to cancer and increased oral infections.
"What is resolving one problem is setting off another," says Weinberg. "However, outcomes of our studies should help us better understand how the lining of our mouth and other parts of our body, like the skin, protect us from microbes that make us sick, and why some people are better protected than others."
The new study builds on seven years of previous research in whic
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Case Western Reserve University