Craniofacial Biology

Oral tissue regeneration and healing

UWA research into craniofacial biology aims to understand the cellular molecular mechanism of oral biology to support and aid oral tissue regeneration and healing.

Our craniofacial biology research undertakes novel regenerative medicine approach to translate fundamental scientific research into direct clinical treatments and outcomes.

We adopt the latest stem cell research findings to identify potential source of stem cell isolation from the orofacial region, in particular from the periodontal ligament (PDL) region.

The identification of potential stem cells from these regions not only provides a source of self-replenishment but potentially can be extracted for regeneration of other regions.

Our work aims to:

  • extract and culture periodontal ligament cell from periodontal membrane explant and to select stem cells using flow cytometry
  • validate stem cell population within the periodontal ligament
  • investigate the effects of tooth movement and distraction osteogenesis using mechanical stimulation on bone in vitro model
  • investigate the dose-dependent effect of BMP2, 4, EGF, NGF and FGF 2 and 7 on periodontal ligament fibroblast, and
  • investigate the effect of NGF, EGF and FGF (2 and 7) in replanted rat molars in a rat model.

     Research Program Lead: Dr Mithran Goonewardene


Periodontal ligament source of stem cells have been documented in the literature adopting similar isolation strategies as to bone marrow stem cells. To date, with flow cytometry (QEII Medical Centre, Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis, UWA) and antibodies immune-selection, stem cells can be identified among the periodontal ligament fibroblasts. This work has earned a collaboration award between UWA’s Craniofacial Biology Research Program, the University of Leeds and Nanjing University.

In addition, chemical stimuli such as growth factors and mechanical stimulus have been documented to play an important role in tissue responses. Work carried out by UWA’s Craniofacial Biology Research Program aims to investigate the effects of growth factors on tissue response and bone regeneration. Chemical stimuli such as growth factors can have a significant impact on tissue regeneration. The potential of nerve growth factor beta (NGF-), epidermal growth factor (EGF), fibroblast growth factor 2 and 7 (FGF2 and FGF7) and bone morphogenetic protein 2 and 4 (BMP2 and BMP4) to enhance oral tissue regeneration has yet to be thoroughly investigated.

Other projects in this area include:

  • Identification, cultivation and isolation of periodontal ligament derived stem cells (PDLSCs)
  • Effects of chemical stimuli (NGF, BMP (2 and 4), FGF (2 and 7) and EGF) on oral tissue regeneration
  • Effects of mechanical stimuli (tooth movement and distraction osteogenesis) on oral tissue regeneration
  • Tissue regeneration in oral health, an animal study



Contact Program Lead Dr Mithran Goonewardene