For adults, the loss of teeth is often a permanent issue, prompting the need for fillings and dental care. However, a transformative breakthrough may be on the horizon as scientists delve into the realm of tooth regrowth treatments. Building upon decades of research in this field, clinical trials for a potential tooth regrowth solution are slated to commence in July 2024, with the possibility of therapeutic drugs becoming available by 2030.
Heading this pioneering endeavor is a team from Japan’s Medical Research Institute at Kitano Hospital. Their focus lies on individuals afflicted with anodontia, a rare genetic condition that disrupts the typical growth of both baby and adult teeth. While the initial scope of the treatment centers on young children with this condition, researchers believe that in the future, its application could extend to address more prevalent dental issues like gum disease.
“The idea of growing new teeth is every dentist’s dream,” stated Katsu Takahashi, the head of the dentistry and oral surgery department at Kitano Hospital. “I’ve been working on this since I was a graduate student. I was confident I’d be able to make it happen.”
The approach taken by the researchers is grounded in scientific discovery. They identified a genetic connection between a specific gene called USAG-1 and the constriction of tooth growth in mice. Subsequent experimentation involved obstructing the expression of USAG-1, leading to the identification of an antibody capable of safely impeding USAG-1 activity in mice and ferrets without any adverse effects. This antibody spurred tooth growth, and the researchers are now poised to explore if the same process can be harnessed in humans.
Although the journey is still in the realm of potential, the new treatment could potentially induce the growth of a third set of teeth in individuals, following baby teeth and permanent adult teeth. A significant advantage of this approach is its natural stimulation of tooth growth through bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling, a process inherent to our bodies, eliminating the need for intricate stem cell engineering.
In addition to these advancements, the researchers foresee advancements in scanning technology, such as mass spectrometry, which can aid in identifying biomarkers indicating the individuals who would derive the most benefit from this revolutionary treatment. The researchers conclude that the anti-USAG-1 antibody treatment exhibited effectiveness in tooth regeneration in mice and could pave the way for treating tooth anomalies in humans. While the road ahead may be filled with challenges, the prospect of regenerating teeth using our body’s natural mechanisms holds remarkable promise for the future of dental care.
By Impact Lab