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Dentists Might Have Just Found A Way To Regrow Teeth

Drug that regrows teeth to be tested in humans this September While bones can regrow themselves when they break, teeth...

image of missing tooth

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Drug that regrows teeth to be tested in humans this September

While bones can regrow themselves when they break, teeth are not as fortunate. Getting only a set of adult teeth, if you don’t take care of them, you’ll lose them, which is why millions of people worldwide suffer from some type of edentulism – with 75% of the UK’s population not having a full set of teeth. 

But the good news is on the horizon. Did you know that humans may be able to regrow new teeth in six years? Doesn’t that feel like something straight out of a science fiction novel? 

But no, this is real life, and if trials are successful, the treatment drug might be available in 2039, helping to treat all forms of toothlessness. 

Researchers in Japan are about to begin human trials where a tooth-regrowing medicine will be administered intravenously in September of this year (2024).

“We want to do something to help those who are suffering from tooth loss or absence,” Katsu Takahashi, the head of dentistry at the medical research institute at Kitano Hospital in Osaka, told The Mainichi. “While there has been no treatment to date providing a permanent cure, we feel that people’s expectations for tooth growth are high.”

Years of study

The development has focused on a particular antibody called Uterine sensitization–associated gene-1 (USAG-1), which has been shown to regrow teeth in ferrets and mice. Back in 2021, the team discovered a monoclonal antibody, which is a technique used to fight cancer. The antibody disrupts the interaction between USAG-1 and molecules known as bone morphogenetic protein (BMP).

“We knew that suppressing USAG-1 benefits tooth growth. We did not know whether it would be enough,” Kyoto University’s Katsu Takahashi, a co-author of the study, said in a press statement at the time. “Ferrets are diphyodont animals with similar dental patterns to humans.”

The human trials

Exploring just how similar human dental patterns are to ferrets, human trials are scheduled to begin in September 2024. They will last 11 months and focus on 30 males aged between 30 and 64, each of whom is missing at least one tooth. The new drug will be administered intravenously to prove its effectiveness and safety, with no side effects reported in previous animal studies. 

If all goes well, Kitano Hospital plans to administer the treatment to patients aged between 2 and 7 with congenitally missing teeth, who are missing up to at least four teeth. The end goal is to have teeth-regrowing medicine available by the year 2030. While, at the moment, these treatments are focused on patients with congenital tooth deficiency, researchers are hoping that the treatment will become available to anyone who’s ever lost a tooth. But in the meantime, to preserve your oral health, you might want to explore other tooth replacement solutions.

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