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Is Tooth Regeneration A Possibility? Japanese Scientists Find a Solution

Tooth drug developed in Japan to cure tooth loss

Losing teeth is not a big deal for kids. Eventually, baby teeth will be replaced by permanent teeth. However, loss of teeth is excruciating for adults. Clinical methods like implants and artificial measures exist that resolve the issue to some extent. However, tooth regeneration was something out of the question to date.

Some hope for a biological approach for tooth regeneration has recently come to light in Japan. A group of scientists at the University of Fukui and Kyoto University has published the research journal in Science Advances. The findings suggest that an antibody of uterine sensitization associated gene- 1 referred to as USAG-1 can stimulate tooth development. The scientists carried out the trials on mice with tooth agenesis.

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The same problem exists in humans as well. Around one percent of the global population has teeth more or less than the normal number, 32. The researches focused on exploring genetic variables behind having many teeth. The idea was to use this genetic feature to facilitate tooth regeneration. The study was able to identify the fundamental molecules associated with tooth development.

Katsu Takahashi, one of the lead authors of the study, says “The morphogenesis of an individual tooth relies on the interactions between several molecules like BMP (bone morphogenetic protein) and Wnt signaling.” Besides, modulating the growth of teeth, these molecules influence the development of numerous parts of the human body even before birth.

The study found that USAG-1 could be safely suppressed to antagonize BMP and Wnt for tooth regeneration. The big question was would it be enough to initiate the development.

The Science Behind Tooth Regeneration

The researchers investigated the interactions of several monoclonal antibodies to observe the varied outcomes in mice. Basically, the concept was to inject antibodies to disrupt the binding of USAG-1 with BMP and Wnt which could ultimately accelerate tooth development. The antibodies were systematically administered to pregnant mice.

As a result, some antibodies greatly impacted the BMP and Wnt which caused premature deaths and poor developments in some mice. However, one antibody showed slightly different interactions and looked promising. As far as quantity is concerned, a single administration of the USAG-1 neutralizing antibody was sufficient for a single tooth in ferrets.

This antibody could reduce interactions of USAG-1 with BMP with reduced death rates and higher survival rates. The scientists further experimented on the antibody. After several experiments, the scientists concluded that BMP signaling is crucial to tooth development particularly in mice. As a result, scientists observed supernumerary teeth in the mice. Despite the lack of involvement, studies cannot exclude Wnt signaling as it essential for growth and survival.

Tooth generation in USAG-1 deficient mice
Kyoto University

Then the experiments progressed to ferrets that have human-like dental patterns. Even the method worked efficiently in ferrets. This affirmed the effectiveness of the antibody injection procedure.

Furthermore, the research group has planned to conduct the testing in advanced beings like pigs and dogs. The study to this point has offered new hope for tooth regeneration via monoclonal antibodies.

Science has not witnessed the involvement of these targeted antibodies before.  The experiments were successful in utilizing antibodies to cure congenital tooth agenesis in EDA-1(one of the genes responsible for poor tooth development) deficient mice. Still, many questions remain unanswered and scientists are striving for justifiable outcomes. If the research succeeds, it could offer a trick to regenerate lost teeth in adults.

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