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Groundbreaking medication in clinical trial to regrow human teeth

[Oct. 3, 2023: Staff Writer, The Brighter Side of News]

The revolutionary finding could permanently alter global dental care practices, enhancing the lives of millions grappling with dental issues. (CREDIT: Creative Commons)

For centuries, sharks have captivated our imagination. Not just for their prowess in the ocean, but also for their incredible ability to regrow teeth. Wouldn't it be revolutionary if humans could emulate this ability? A team of Japanese researchers is on the brink of turning this aspiration into reality.

In an age where technological and medical advancements unfold at breakneck speed, the realm of dentistry might be the next frontier to witness a transformative leap. Driven by nature's perfect model – the shark – researchers are exploring the possibilities of enabling humans to grow new teeth.


The Beginning: Genesis of an Innovative Research

An intriguing study was published in Scientific Reports that paved the foundation for this groundbreaking approach. It uncovered the role of the USAG-1 gene in influencing the number of teeth grown in animals. The protein synthesized by this gene was found to hold immense potential in the realm of dentistry.

A new tooth is seen growing in a mouse treated with the tooth regrowth medicine. (CREDIT: Katsu Takahashi, head of the dentistry and oral surgery department at the Medical Research Institute Kitano Hospital)

Building upon these initial findings, the research team from Japan set its sights on expanding the study to encompass human teeth regeneration. The exciting announcement followed: A clinical trial slated for 2024, with a grand vision of making the medicine accessible to the masses by 2030.


A Dentist's Dream: Regrowing Teeth

For Katsu Takahashi, the lead researcher and head of the dentistry and oral surgery department at the Medical Research Institute Kitano Hospital in Osaka, this has been a dream in the making. “The idea of growing new teeth is every dentist’s dream. I’ve been working on this since I was a graduate student. I was confident I’d be able to make it happen,” he shared passionately in an interview with Mainichi.


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Takahashi's years of dedication in the field has enabled him to explore the intricate interplay of genes in teeth growth. "The number of teeth varied through the mutation of just one gene. If we make that the target of our research, there should be a way to change the number of teeth people have,” he expounded.


From Mice to Men: Transcending Boundaries

The preliminary findings were indeed fascinating. When the USAG-1 protein was blocked, teeth growth was facilitated in mice. This led to the development of a medication specifically tailored to inhibit the protein, successfully ushering in new teeth growth in the tested mice.

The front teeth of a ferret treated with tooth regrowth medicine are seen in a photo provided by Katsu Takahashi, head of the dentistry and oral surgery department at the Medical Research Institute Kitano Hospital. The medicine induced the growth of an additional seventh tooth (center).

In a more recent 2023 paper in Regenerative Therapy, the promising outcomes of the anti-USAG-1 antibody treatment in mice were discussed. The paper lamented the existing void in tooth regrowth treatments but lauded this new approach as “a breakthrough in treating tooth anomalies in humans.”


Nature's Blueprint: Genetic Hints at Human Teeth Regrowth

Dr. Takahashi's assertion adds a layer of optimism to the research's trajectory. His studies reveal that nature has already embedded the blueprint for this potential within us. Contrary to popular belief, humans already possess the beginnings of a third set of teeth. This is most evident in the 1 percent of the population diagnosed with hyperdontia, a condition resulting in the growth of more than a full set of teeth.

Katsu Takahashi, head of the dentistry and oral surgery department at the Medical Research Institute Kitano Hospital, is seen in the city of Osaka's Kita Ward. (CREDIT: Mainichi/Mirai Nagira)

Moreover, around 1 percent of humans suffer from anodontia, a genetic disorder preventing the growth of a complete set of teeth. For them, this research isn't just groundbreaking—it's life-changing.


Towards a Brighter, Toothier Future

With the forthcoming clinical trial, the implications of this research stand to redefine dental care. If successful, the world could witness a transformative phase in dentistry by 2030.

In essence, the quest to emulate a fraction of the shark's awe-inspiring abilities is not just about teeth regrowth. It's about harnessing nature's design, pushing the boundaries of science, and improving the quality of life for millions globally. The next decade in dentistry looks promising, and the world waits with bated breath for what's to come.

For more science news stories check out our New Innovations section at The Brighter Side of News.


Note: Materials provided above by The Brighter Side of News. Content may be edited for style and length.


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