Periodontitis, or gum disease, is the result of infections and inflammation of the gums and bone that surround and support the teeth. Current tests for periodontitis—and other inflammatory diseases, like arthritis—are invasive, and target only the advanced stages of these diseases. As Canada Research Chair in DNA-based Biomaterials, Dr. Karina Carneiro is developing new engineered biomaterials to support the early diagnosis and effective treatment of connective tissue loss caused by inflammatory diseases.
We already know that nanoengineered DNA molecules can form 3D structures that drive cell differentiation and tissue formation. Carneiro’s hypothesis is that DNA hydrogels can promote tissue-specific regenerative processes in patients with inflammatory diseases. She and her research team are developing DNA aptamers (which are a special class of nucleic acid molecules) for early diagnosis of the extracellular matrix lesions that characterize many common and serious inflammatory diseases.