Global prize for ‘tooth repair’ scientist

Breakthroughs in the regeneration of bone and dental tissue have won a Cardiff University researcher a leading award for young dental scientists.

Dr Alastair Sloan’s research career has focused on the therapeutic use of bio-active molecules in the repair of the body’s mineralised tissues – bones and dentine in the teeth.

He has built up understanding of how the body’s own stem cells repair damaged tissues naturally – and identified new materials which can do the same.

Now Dr Sloan’s work has won him one of the world’s leading awards for oral and dental scientists under the age of 40.

The International Association for Dental Research’s Young Investigator Award is presented annually for a researcher’s achievements to date, and the promise they hold for the future.

Dr Sloan’s work offers new approaches both to filling damaged teeth and healing broken bones.

He explained: ‘The survival rate for tooth repair work has improved in recent years, but there is still only less than 50% chance of a filling or other work lasting five years.

‘Our team wants to drive that figure up while creating dental restorations that promote tissue repair and survival of the tooth.

‘We have recently made significant advances in this area so that we know which molecules offer the best chance of survival, thanks to a project funded by the Welsh Assembly Government’s Welsh Office for Research and Development.

‘We are now working on a major MRC-funded project to identify the best ways of delivering them.’

Dr Sloan’s research group is also working on a similar approach to broken bones, imitating natural healing processes but improving on effectiveness and speed.

His team also studies how inflammation impacts on dental disease and has come up with new models of inflammatory bone damage. This work has been funded by the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs).

Dr Sloan, head of tissue engineering and reparative dentistry at the School of Dentistry leads the Mineralised Tissue Research Group and received his award at the International Association for Dental Research’s annual general session in San Diego, USA.

He received a plaque and $3,500.

Dr Sloan said: ‘I am both honoured and delighted to have won this prestigious award. It recognises the significant internationally competitive work the Mineralised Tissue Group at The School of Dentistry is engaged with and this award is also for my fantastic team here in
Cardiff. It shows not just the strength of our group but also the quality of research in The School of Dentistry in general.’

Professor Mike Lewis, dean of the School of Dentistry, said: ‘This is a fantastic award which rightfully acknowledges Dr Sloan¹s cutting edge and world leading research.  As described at the presentation of the award, Dr Sloan represents the future of dentistry and I am obviously absolutely delighted that his research team is based here in Cardiff.’

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