Penn Dental Student Wins Research Award


Kazuma Kitagaito (D’17, MSE’17) and his research preceptor Dr. Fusun Ozer, Associate Professor of Restorative Dentistry at Penn Dental Medicine.

Philadelphia — Third-year Penn Dental Medicine student Kazuma Kitagaito (D’17, MSE’17) has been recognized for his clinical research with an award presented at the 21st Hinman Student Research Symposium, recently held in Memphis, Tenn. Eight awards — four in clinical research and four in basic science research — in addition to an award from the National Students Research Group (NSRG) of the AADR were given for the most outstanding student presentations from among the 94 students participating. The students represented 51 dental schools from throughout the United States as well three from Canada. Kitagaito was among the four clinical research award recipients.

Kitagaito’s project evaluated the pre-treatment of composite resin restorations with the antimicrobial agent chlorhexidine gluconate (CHX) as an intermediate step in inhibiting the matrix metalloproteinases (MMP) to preserve resin/dentin bond durability. The clinical implications of such treatment may help to prevent the occurrence of restorative failure from endogenous MMP activities on collagen degradation. The results indicated that pretreatment of dentin surfaces with CHX increased bond durability after one year in vitro aging of the dentin samples, making it a potentially viable option to help strengthen composite resin restorations. The project was directed by Dr. Fusun Ozer, Associate Professor of Restorative Dentistry at Penn Dental Medicine.

“Kazuma’s presentation at the Hinman Symposium is only a very small part of his research project,” notes Dr. Ozer. She explains that endogenous dentinal enzymes, specifically MMPs have been indicated in degradation in the bonded interface of resin restorations. Specifically, MMP-8 is believed to play the largest role in the degradation. Clinically, some synthetic nonspecific MMP inhibitors, such as CHX can be used to inhibit MMP activities.

“Kazuma’s research is focusing on selective inhibition on dentinal MMP-8 with the use of MMP-8 derived peptide inhibitor, Extracellular Matrix Protection Factor-2 (ECPF-2) and is comparing the findings with the results of CHX application,” adds Dr. Ozer. “The ECPF peptide being tested in our project is a selective inhibitor of a single MMP substrate binding site, allowing each “inhibited” MMP enzyme to fulfill normal metabolic functions on alternative substrates within the tissue. We have already received very promising results with this new peptide and Kazuma will present his findings at AADR 2016 meeting in Los Angeles.”

The annual Hinman Student Research Symposium is sponsored by the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry and the Hinman Dental Society. The awards were presented by Dr. Jonathan Dubin, President of the Hinman Dental Society; Dr. Franklin García-Godoy, Senior Executive Associate Dean for Research at University of Tennessee College of Dentistry; Mustafa Dabbous, founder of the Symposium; Dr. Robert Spears, Professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and former Faculty Advisor to the NSRG; and Alina O’Brien, dental student at Columbia University and Councilor-elect of the NSRG.