Funded Projects


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2021 Funded Projects

CFDHRE Peer Reviewed Grants

Project Title:

COVID-19 incidence rates among Canadian dental hygienists: a cohort study

Principal Applicant

Leigha Rock, RDH, DipDH, BDSc, PhD
Dalhousie University

Co-Applicants:

McGill University
University of Toronto
College of Dental Hygienists of Nova Scotia

Purpose

To gather real-time data on COVID19 incidence rates among dental hygienists in Canada, and how these rates vary according to treatments they provide (e.g., aerosol-generating procedures (AGP) vs non- AGP) and PPE (e.g., N95 mask) used; to describe the COVID19 related anxiety among dental hygienists across different phases of the pandemic.

Problem statement

There is a severe lack of evidence on the impact of COVID-19 among Canadian dental hygienists. Emerging evidence shows an increased incidence of COVID-19 among several groups of health care providers. The level of evidence surrounding PPE, the use of AGPs and the risk of contamination with SARS-CoV-2 and contracting COVID-19 is very poor. In late July 2020, our team initiated a prospective cohort study of Canadian dentists to estimate the prevalence and incidence of COVID-19 among this group. The study was funded by CIHR and is currently in progress. However, dental hygienists were not included in this project. Dental hygienists are an essential part of oral health delivery in Canada. To assess the overall impact of this pandemic on the Canadian oral health care system, we need evidence from dental hygienists also. In December 2020, the study was amended to include dental hygienists. Data from dental hygienists has been being collected since December 2020. Funding from the Canadian Foundation for Dental Hygiene Research and Education will support the dental hygiene-specific analyses.

Study design

In this prospective cohort study, participants were identified to participate through email via the rosters of provincial Dental Hygiene Regulatory Authorities. Socio-demographics and comorbidities, information on dental hygiene care provided to patients in the previous two weeks, COVID-related symptoms/tests results, and the COVID-19 Anxiety Syndrome Scale were collected at baseline and will continue to be collected every four weeks for 12 months. Outcome will be a self-reported diagnosis of COVID19 within 12 months of follow up.

Potential impact

Currently, the extent of the impact of COVID-19 among Canadian dental hygienists is unknown. This project will generate this essential new knowledge and has the potential to influence policy and guidelines for infection prevention and control.

Award

$10,000

Project Title:

E-cadherin and beta-catenin in the malignant progression of oral epithelial dysplasia

Principal Applicant

Denise Laronde, DipDH, BA, MSc, PhD, DHP(C)
University of British Columbia

Co-Applicants:

BC Cancer Research Centre/BC Cancer

Problem statement

Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), a biological process characterized by a progressive decrease in epithelial features and increase in mesenchymal traits, has been proposed as a critical mechanism in cancer development. The loss of E-cadherin, a cell-surface protein involved in epithelial cell-cell adhesion, is a hallmark feature of EMT. A potential mechanism in which E-cadherin contributes to malignant progression is via beta-catenin signaling through the Wnt pathway. Cross-sectional studies have shown that E-cadherin and beta-catenin expression is altered from normal oral mucosa, oral epithelial dysplasia (OED), to oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC). However, there has been no longitudinal research on the potential role of these biomarkers in malignant progression.

Purpose

1. To explore the expression of E-cadherin and beta-catenin in OED that progressed to oral cancer.
2. To determine if E-cadherin and beta-catenin expression patterns predict the progression of OED to oral cancer

Methods

Patient samples with a baseline biopsy of low-grade (mild or moderate) OED will be obtained from the Oral Cancer Prediction Longitudinal study for this matched case-control study of 78 non-progressors and 39 progressors. Samples that progressed to severe OED, carcinoma in situ, or OSCC will be designated as progressors, and samples that did not progress will be non-progressors. Immunohistochemistry will be performed on formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue samples to visualize expression patterns of E-cadherin and beta-catenin. Multivariate logistic regression will determine whether reduced epithelial expression of E-cadherin, and reduced membranous and increased cytoplasmic and/or nuclear expression of beta-catenin predict malignant progression.

Potential impact

This research will enhance the understanding of EMT’s role in the malignant progression of oral potentially malignant lesions. This project can ultimately aid in the prevention and early identification of lesions at risk of progression to cancer and improvement of patient prognosis in a clinical setting.

Award

$10,000