Japanese researchers discover a method for regrowing teeth in mice

Everyone is familiar with losing teeth because we all do it his children. However, once we become adults, tooth loss can create a significant problem. While children have adult teeth that come in to replace those they lose, an adult who loses a tooth simply goes without the tooth, which can make it more difficult to eat. A group of scientists from Kyoto University and the University of Fukui has discovered an antibody for a single gene that can stimulate tooth growth in mice.The gene is a uterine sensitization associated with gene-1 or USAG-1, and it's able to stimulate tooth growth in mice that suffer from tooth agenesis, which is a genetic condition. The researchers note that typical adults have 32 teeth, but about one percent of the population has more or less due to a congenital condition. The researchers explored the genetic causes for having too many teeth as clues for helping to regenerate teeth in adults.

The researchers point out that the morphogenesis of individual teeth depends on interactions of multiple molecules, including one called bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) and Wnt signaling. Those molecules modulate the growth of multiple organs and tissues inside the human body. Researchers avoid drugs that directly impact their activity because of side effects that could have ramifications for the entire body.

Researchers say that they did know that suppressing USAG-1 benefits tooth growth, so they investigated that specific gene. The team was able to find several monoclonal antibodies for USAG-1. Antibodies of the sort are commonly used to treat cancer, arthritis and to develop vaccines. The researchers disrupted the interaction of USAG-1 with BMP only and found that BMP signaling is essential for determining the number of teeth in mice.

They also found that a single administration was enough to generate a whole tooth and subsequent experiments show the same benefits for ferrets. Researchers say the study is the first to show the benefits of monoclonal antibodies for tooth regeneration and could provide a new therapeutic framework for tooth replacement that's currently treated via implants or artificial methods.