Chris McCulloch with Boris Hinz

CIHR funds chronic periodontal inflammation research

Could a protein, the fibroblast-specific CARMIL-1, be the culprit behind collagen degradation and, in turn, the breakdown of gingival connective tissue structure? 

That is the question behind a five-year, $670,000 research grant awarded to Professor Chris McCulloch from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) last January. 

The prestigious grant will allow McCulloch and collaborator Michael Glogauer to look more deeply into the complex signalling relationship between the expression of CARMIL-1, a novel pro-inflammatory regulatory molecule, and Interleukin-1, in the development and progression of inflammatory periodontitis. 

Building on McCulloch’s past research, the team wants to study whether disrupting the signalling system involving CARMIL-1 and Interleukin-1, halts the progression of collagen and gingival degradation —key components of successful treatment of this disease. 

“By studying this relationship we can develop novel new drug targets to halt, and potentially turn back the clock, on this high prevalence disease,” says McCulloch, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Matrix Dynamics. 

“Our researchers are making vital connections between the signalling mechanisms of the collagen matrix and inflammatory diseases at the cellular level,” adds Bernhard Ganss, vice-dean research at the Faculty of Dentistry. 

Periodontitis, the leading cause of tooth loss among adults, has been linked to cardiovascular disease. 


Photo: Professor Chris McCulloch with distinguished professor Boris Hinz, courtesy Jeff Comber