NTU and National Dental Centre Singapore in a million-dollar dentistry research partnership

Published on : 15-Apr-2014

NTU will provide training to dental surgeons for the first time through this collaboration

Singaporeans can look forward to innovative and practical solutions to dental health issues with a new partnership between National Dental Centre Singapore (NDCS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU).
With this tie-up, NTU will provide – for the first time – training in research to dental surgeons, with the aim of boosting innovative oral health solutions from bench to clinic. There is great potential to develop innovative products and devices that can shape the future of oral health care. The key areas for training in research will be in bone bioengineering and 3D bio-printing, areas which NTU has deep expertise in, such as in its ongoing research in bone reconstruction and oral tissue repair.
This partnership will have a funding of S$1 million, which will support collaborative research projects over the next three years. The $500,000 contribution by NDCS is supported by the National Medical Research Council (NMRC), while the other $500,000 is from NTU.
While this research partnership focuses on fostering research collaborations and developing core strengths, the Memorandum of Understanding signed by both parties today will also support the formal training of NDCS clinicians in research. This is in line with the national aspiration to groom and grow the number of clinician scientists here.
“NDCS and NTU’s research and innovation strategies are highly complementary and this synergy has enhanced our research partnership. We look forward to boosting our research and to strengthening R&D capabilities. We hope that this collaboration will break new ground in developing novel clinical approaches and treatments,” said Clinical Associate Professor Kwa Chong Teck, Executive Director, NDCS.

Dean of NTU’s College of Engineering, Professor Ng Wun Jern, said the unique collaboration pulls together significant expertise and substantial resources from two institutions, with PhD students benefiting from the access to top-notch facilities and the support of faculty for their cutting-edge research projects.

“With NTU's strength in biomedical engineering solutions and global leadership in 3D printing, we are well positioned to create breakthroughs for clinical work and technological advancements in dentistry. Increasingly, 3D printing is the preferred route taken by many industries to produce prototypes rapidly, so by developing the ability to print bone scaffolds, real tissue and organs, it will directly impact the way healthcare professionals treat their patients in future,” Prof Ng said.

Research Projects

Bone is the second most transplanted tissue in the world and the need for bone grafts and substitutes has been forecast to reach $3.3 billion in revenues by 2013, with a compound annual growth rate of 13.8% from 2006 to 2013 in the United States. This rising need for bone reconstruction is also reflected globally.

One key project under this collaboration is to study how 3D bioresorbable scaffolds can be used to assist bone growth around dental implants and to repair jaw defects resulting from trauma or cancer surgery.

For example, after a tooth is extracted, there will be bone loss around the area, making dental implants difficult. The 3D scaffolds can then be used to grow new bone in the area, instead of having to graft bone from from other parts of the patient’s body. After the bone grows, the scaffold will also be absorbed by the body. This method will significantly reduce pain after surgery for the patient, as there will be no need for bone grafts and can potentially reduce the number of surgeries and length of hospital stays.

These bioresorbable scaffolds are highly porous so as to allow bone-forming cells to be entrapped within its structure. They also enable better diffusion of body fluids that provide nutrients to these cells which result in more bone growth when the cells are trapped in them. The study will look into materials, stem cells and bioreactor research and enhancement of the body’s own bone regenerative processes.

The second key research collaboration project will study 3D bioprinting of human tissue in the laboratory. These printed tissues can then be used to replace part of the patient’s jaw or the gum during reconstructive surgery. The project will develop efficient ways to print such human tissues for oral tissue repair.

“Through this partnership with NTU, we hope that more young clinicians in NDCS will be encouraged to make research a part of their career. NTU provides an excellent environment with facilities that support the training of clinician scientists. Technological innovations and device development are exciting areas for research that may potentially lead to solutions for clinical problems,” said Dr Goh Bee Tin, Head, Research, NDCS.

Professor Teoh Swee Hin, Chair, School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, NTU said this collaboration is a clear demonstration of how meaningful partnerships can greatly enhance technological capabilities for education purposes.

“Our aim is to train clinicians in evidenced-based research. With this skill, they can then combine strong engineering science with their clinical experience to do translational bone tissue engineering – bringing research into the clinics to directly benefit patients,” added Prof Teoh, who is a world-renowned expert in bone tissue engineering.


Media contact:

Lester Kok
Senior Assistant Manager
Corporate Communications Office
Nanyang Technological University
Tel: 6790 6804
Email: lesterkok@ntu.edu.sg

About Nanyang Technological University

A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has 33,500 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the colleges of Engineering, Business, Science, Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences, and its Interdisciplinary Graduate School. It has a new medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, set up jointly with Imperial College London.

NTU is also home to world-class autonomous institutes – the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre on Environmental Life Sciences Engineering – and various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI), Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N) and the Institute on Asian Consumer Insight (ACI).

A fast-growing university with an international outlook, NTU is putting its global stamp on Five Peaks of Excellence: Sustainable Earth, Future Healthcare, New Media, New Silk Road, and Innovation Asia.

Besides the main Yunnan Garden campus, NTU also has a satellite campus in Singapore’s science and tech hub, one-north, and a third campus in Novena, Singapore’s medical district.

For more information, visit www.ntu.edu.sg




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