The loss of dental pieces affects a significant part of the population, whose best alternative is to replace them with implants.
Dental losses and the need for implants continue to be a booming business in Spain. Although in the case of the little ones the loss of a tooth can mean joy, since they will expect a gift in return from the legendary Tooth Fairy, that is not usually the emotion that it awakens in adults: the loss of teeth in adulthood is forever, unless parts are artificially implanted.
At least that’s how it was until now, given that a new study by scientists from Kyoto University and Fukui University believe they can offer a hopeful alternative in these cases: regenerate teeth without needing implants.
In the study, published in Science Advances, the researchers suggest the usefulness of an antibody to a gene (gene-1 or USAG-1) associated with uterine sensitization) that would be able to stimulate tooth growth in mice with dental agenesis, a congenital condition that also occurs in humans, which causes teeth to fail to grow.
In a normal mouth of an average adult human there are 32 teeth, but it is estimated that about 1% of the population has more or less teeth due to congenital conditions. In this case, scientists have investigated the genetic causes that would cause having too many teeth, with the aim of using said excess to improve the situation in the opposite cases, that is, in those with missing teeth.
Currently, as Katsu Takahashi, one of the main authors of the study and a professor at the Kyoto University School of Medicine, comments, the fundamental molecules responsible for tooth development: BMP or bone morphogenic protein, and Wnt, among others.
So much BMP like Wnt are involved in many other processes Apart from the development of the teeth, since they also modulate the growth of various organs and tissues even during embryonic development. For this reason, the use of medications that may alter the activity of these molecules in some way is avoided, since the side effects could have long-term effects not only on the teeth, but on the entire body.
The key would be to be able to alter the activity of these molecules, specifically, as far as their activity within dental development is concerned. Therefore, the researchers looked at the USAG-1 gene: If this gene, which interacts with BMP and Wnt molecules, is suppressed, tooth growth will occur.
However, it was not clear whether suppressing the activity of the USAG-1 gene would be enough, so they investigated the effects of various monoclonal antibodies against the gene.
an antibody in particular that it did manage to interrupt the interaction between the USAG-1 gene and BMP specificallywithout affecting the rest of the body. In fact, the use of this antibody revealed the importance of BMP in dental growth and in the number of total teeth in particular: a single administration of the antibody was enough to generate a complete tooth; and the same results were also achieved in other animals, such as ferrets.
This last experiment is important, since the ferrets They are diphyodont animals, with human-like tooth patterns, as Takahashi recalls. In the future, the plan will be to try the same experiments on more complex animals, such as pigs or dogs.
Finally, the researchers recall that this would be the first study to show the benefits of the use of monoclonal antibodies in tooth regeneration, and would provide a new therapeutic framework for a problem that currently requires the almost exclusive use of artificial measures, such as implants.
In the not too distant future, it is possible that the current tissue engineering gives way to the use of molecular therapies specific as the aforementioned monoclonal antibodies.