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How to make teeth grow back? A new drug that could help regenerate missing teeth

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Japanese scientists took the first steps in developing a new drug that could help regenerate missing teeth in humans.

Researchers from Kyoto University and Fukui University found that suppression of Uterine sensitization–associated gene-1 (USAG-1), through the use of its antibody, can efficiently lead to tooth growth.

According to Katsu Takahashi, one of the study’s lead authors and a senior lecturer at the Kyoto University School of Medicine, the fundamental molecules responsible for tooth development were identified: bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) and Wnt.

These molecules are involved in many more processes than tooth development: they modulate the growth of multiple organs and tissues. Therefore, medications that directly affect its activity are often avoided, as the side effects could affect the entire body.

The scientists then decided to attack the factors that antagonize BMP and Wnt specifically in tooth development.

“We knew that suppressing USAG-1 benefits tooth growth. What we did not know was whether it would be enough,” says Katsu Takahashi.

Scientists investigated the effects of various monoclonal antibodies on USAG-1. Monoclonal antibodies are commonly used to treat cancers, arthritis, and vaccine development.

Mouse experiments showed that a promising antibody disrupted the interaction of USAG-1 with BMP. Furthermore, a single administration was sufficient to generate a complete tooth.

Ferrets were also tested and showed the same benefits. Ferrets have similar tooth patterns to humans.

Now scientists plan to test the antibodies in other animals such as pigs and dogs.

The study is the first to show the benefits of monoclonal antibodies in tooth regeneration and provides a new therapeutic framework for a clinical problem that can currently only be solved with implants and other artificial measures.

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