The teeth we get when we’re young are meant to last us a whole lifetime, but that’s not always the case for many people. Whether from poor dental hygiene, trauma to the mouth, or any other number of reasons, some people lose teeth throughout their lives and have to opt either for dentures, implants, or just having a gap where a tooth used to be. However, that may not be the case for much longer, as scientists in Japan have seemingly developed a drug that could grow new teeth from scratch.
- The development comes from researchers at Kyoto University and the University of Fukui. A study published in the journal Science Advances showed that an antibody for uterine sensitization associated gene-1 (USAG-1) can be an impetus for tooth growth, at least in mice suffering from the congenital condition tooth agenesis. “Our results demonstrate that USAG-1 controls the number of teeth by inhibiting development of potential tooth germs in wild-type or mutant mice missing teeth,” the report states.
- Roughly 1% of the world population has fewer or more than 32 teeth due to congenital conditions. Because of this, the researchers in the study believe that the root cause of tooth loss may be the exact place to look for a solution to the problem. This is where the study began, with Katsu Takahashi, a lead author on the study alongside and senior lecturer at the Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine, saying according to the MailOnline: “We knew that suppressing USAG-1 benefits tooth growth. What we did not know was whether it would be enough.”
- Even one dose of the antibody was enough to see progress. The tooth regeneration was seen in the mice after only a single administration of the antibody. The researchers followed this trial up with work on ferrets as “[they’re] diphyodont animals with similar dental patterns to humans. Our next plan is to test the antibodies on other animals such as pigs and dogs.”
- If this proves successful, it could be a game-changer. While there’s still a very long time before this antibody treatment is available to human beings, if indeed it ever is, it’s still an amazing prospect and one that’s well-worth continuing to research.