MORGANTOWN , W.Va.Engineering and dentistry researchers at West Virginia University are working together to develop a better tool for the early detection of periodontal disease, a common cause of tooth loss in older adults and a major problem in West Virginia.


Osama Mukdadi, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering in the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, is the lead researcher on the two-year project,Non-Invasive High-Resolution Diagnosis of Periodontal Attachment Levels Using Real-Time Quantitative Ultrasound Imaging.


Dr. Peter Ngan, professor and chair of orthodontics, and Dr. Richard Crout, an expert on gum disease and associate dean for research in the School of Dentistry, are collaborating with Mukdadi on the project.

The team received $393,575 from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research of the National Institutes of Health for the two-year project, which involves the use of ultrasound imaging to construct three-dimensional images of the human jawbone and surrounding tissues.

Periodontal disease (also commonly referred to as gum disease) is an infection of the tissues that support the teeth. It can range from simple inflammation of the gums to serious disease resulting in major damage to the tissues of the mouth and jawbone. In serious cases, teeth are lost. Researchers also caution that periodontal disease can have effects that go beyond the mouth, including increased risk of heart attack, stroke or an adverse pregnancy outcome.

Ultrasound imaging can produce a three-dimensional image of the human jaw that can detect minute defects that are difficult to detect using current two-dimensional radiographic (x-ray) images, said Mukdadi, an expert in biomedical diagnostic and therapeutic ultrasound. He has been collaborating on the project with the School of Dentistry researchers for two years, with initial funding from the WVU Research Corporations Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (PSCoR). The NIH grant is the groups first externally funded project.

Its exciting to be involved with a project that combines the expertise of a talented interdisciplinary research team and that has the potential to have such a major positive impact on human health,Mukdadi said.

There is a pressing need for the development of better technologies for the early detection of periodontal disease, and nowhere is this need more critical than in West Virginia. This technology provides more detail of the underlying bone surrounding the teeth than an x-ray but is less invasive since there is no radiation. This project has the potential to have a major impact on oral health of our state,Crout said.

The team has applied for a patent for the technology and, after the current study is complete, they are planning clinical studies. The long-term goal, Mukdadi said, is to build a device that periodontistsdentists specializing in the treatment of periodontal diseasecan use in caring for patients.

Mukdadi is currently collaborating with WVU Health Sciences researchers on two other projects involving the use of ultrasound to assess tissue damage in the body.

On one studyHigh-Frequency Ultrasound Tissue Classification of Atherosclerosis in an APOE -KO Mouse Model Using Spectral Analysishe is collaborating with Dr. S. Jamal Mustafa, assistant vice president for research in the Health Sciences Office of Research and Graduate Studies, and Bunyen Teng, a research assistant professor of physiology and pharmacology.

On a second studySimple, Fast, Noninvasive Technique for Measuring Brachial Wall Mechanics During Flow-Mediated Vasodilation AnalysisMukdadi is collaborating with Jefferson C. Frisbee, associate professor of physiology and pharmacology in the WVUSchool of Medicine, and Alexandre DAudiffret, associate professor of vascular and endovascular surgery.

This project is an excellent example of the collaborative research environment at WVU , which is so important to the development of a successful research program in bioengineering,Mukdadi said.

Mukdadi serves as an associate editor for IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control.He is also a conference co-organizer of the American Society of Mechanical Engineering (ASME) IMECE conference.

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