UC San Francisco Biologist Wins NIH Grant to Study Stem Cell Treatments for Salivary Glands

A research biologist at UC San Francisco won a National Institutes of Health grant in 2017 for her research on the use of stem cells to repair salivary glands damaged during radiation therapy. As most readers of this blog know, this kind of damage to salivary glands causes serious oral health problems, including dry mouth.

UC San Francisco, one of the country’s leading medical schools, received a total of more than $593.9 million in federal funds for research from the NIH in 2017, according to a newsletter on the UCSF website. One of its researchers, Sarah Knox, PhD, an assistant professor cell and tissue biology in the School of Dentistry, was given more than $1.8 million for her stem cell research focused on repairing damaged salivary gland tissue.

The report says Knox has developed a chemical compound that can repair the salivary glands’ regenerative capacity, which is typically damaged by the radiation. Her compound has shown success in early clinical study. A key test going forward will be to see if it works in older adults, whose overall regenerative capacities have been slowed by aging.

The myriad of debilitating issues caused by radiation therapy, typically when it is used for treating head and neck cancers, is well established. A dry mouth causes gum recession, impaired wound healing, tooth decay, tooth loss and difficulties in tasting, among other issues.

To read the story about Dr. Know, click on the following link: https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2018/03/409971/2017-nih-funding-top-recipients-and-look-their-research