Soon the end of implants? This medication promises to regrow teeth

Periodontal disease, dental caries, trauma… Many problems can lead to the deterioration or complete loss of teeth. Traditionally, damaged or missing teeth are replaced with prosthetic solutions such as dentures, bridges and dental implants which aim to restore the functionality and aesthetics of the smile. However, these solutions do not completely reproduce the characteristics of natural teeth. Fortunately, dentures and implants may soon become obsolete in the event of tooth loss. Medical research is advancing and Japanese researchers are working on an innovative and revolutionary treatment to regenerate and regrow lost teeth, allowing for more natural and lasting dental reconstruction.

Medicine to regrow teeth

As reported on May 2, 2024 by the Japanese newspaper The Mainichi, researchers from Osaka University have been working for several years on a medication for tooth regrowth. “ We want to do something to help those who are suffering from tooth loss or missing teeth. Although there has been no treatment to date that offers a permanent cure, we believe people’s expectations for tooth growth are high », Estimates Katsu Takahashi, one of the main researchers behind this work. He further adds that “ we hope that one day tooth regrowth medicine will be a third choice next to prostheses and implants “. And according to the latest announcements made at the beginning of May, this work in any case seems to be on track.

Credits: Soumen Hazra / iStock

Here, the researchers were indeed inspired by crocodiles, alligators or sharks which can see their teeth regenerate in adulthood in the event of loss or excessive wear. They therefore sought to identify the gene that prevents tooth regrowth in humans. This allowed them to develop a monoclonal antibody which will allow disable the protein that inhibits tooth growth called USAG-1.

It thus becomes possible to “ remanufacture tooth germs », explains Dr Christophe Lequart, dental surgeon and spokesperson for the French Union for Oral Health who spoke for France Info. “ There is the potential in the gums for a third teething, it is in the making, but it is not triggered, but the Japanese researchers said to themselves that they could get there with targeted therapy », Adds Damien Mascret, doctor and journalist, for the French media.

Very promising animal tests… and human trials soon too

So far, the drug has only been tested on animals such as mice or ferrets. The drug then made it possible to grow so-called “tertiary” teeth without any major side effects observed.

This tooth grew back effectively in a mouse with a congenital disease. Credits: Kitano Hospital/Osaka University

However, there is still a long way to go before the product is commercialized. THE clinical trials on humans will begin from September 2024 at Kyoto University Hospital to test the effectiveness of this treatment. The research team initially plans to administer it to thirty healthy adult men (aged 30 to 64 years) who all have at least one missing posterior tooth. These tests will then take place until August 2025.

If these trials go well and the safety of the treatment is confirmed, the scientists intend to continue their work. This time they will plan with clinical trials in a younger population: children aged two to seven who are missing at least four teeth at birth. This second phase of testing will therefore aim to test the drug on patients suffering from congenital dental insufficiency (or dental agenesis, a pathology which affects 1% of the world population and can be handicapping for both speech and hearing). food).

Once fully validated, this treatment will be reserved primarily for young patients suffering from dental agenesis to allow them to have a complete set of teeth. However, the researchers do not exclude that it could quickly become accessible to all, even people who have lost teeth due to cavities or accidents. There commercialization could even occur before 2030.

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