Humans may soon grow new teeth, with promising drug trial set

Humans may soon grow new teeth, with promising drug trial set
Scientists are inching closer to developing human tooth regeneration
Scientists are inching closer to developing human tooth regeneration
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Scientists are inching closer to developing human tooth regeneration
Scientists are inching closer to developing human tooth regeneration

Some sharks get a new set of teeth every few weeks, while crocodiles can go through thousands of chompers in their long lifetimes. Yet the ability to endlessly replace our pearly whites is something that’s eluded us and nearly all other mammals. By the time our 32 ‘adult’ teeth grow in, that’s as good as it gets.

Now, a Japanese team of scientists is set to trial an experimental drug that would allow humans to grow completely new teeth.

A clinical trial scheduled for July 2024 will initially be for participants with tooth agenesis, a genetic condition that results in the absence of teeth, but the scientists have a view to making the treatment available for general use by as soon as 2030.

"The idea of growing new teeth is every dentist's dream.” said Katsu Takahashi, lead researcher and head of the dentistry and oral surgery department at the Medical Research Institute Kitano Hospital in Osaka. “I’ve been working on this since I was a graduate student. I was confident I'd be able to make it happen.”

In an earlier study, the researchers landed on an antibody for uterine sensitization-associated gene-1 (USAG-1), which could stimulate new tooth growth in mice with tooth agenesis.

Essentially, the scientists found that USAG-1 interacts with other proteins to suppress tooth growth. Blocking the interaction can lead to bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling, which triggers new tooth growth.

Following on from those 2018 mice trials, experiments with ferrets had similar success in growing new teeth. The animals grew a seventh front tooth that was the same shape and makeup as its neighbors.

”We hope to pave the way for the medicine's clinical use," Takahashi said.

For years, scientists have been trying to crack the code on the genetic expression that enables animals such as sharks to continuously grow teeth, among other experimental research, but translating it to human application has been elusive.

The original 2021 study was published in the journal Science Advances.

Sources: The Mainichi, Medical Research Institute Kitano Hospital

Brian M
Does beg the question why USAG-1 evolved in the first place to supress teeth renewal, presumably there must be a big disadvantage for animals like us to continue growing teeth.

Guess its highly inefficient if you don't need teeth for attacking prey etc. or grinding away at your food. Interesting not all (vicious) biting carnivores regrow teeth, for example cats.
dave be
Well once teeth last long enough to get us past breeding age + long enough to care for our young to get there evolution stops caring. 2 sets of teeth are apparently where that lands us.
"The idea of growing new teeth is every dentist's dream.” Seriously?!! I very much doubt it given how much money there is in dentures and implants!! In fact, I'd go a long way to say that even if it works, this sort of technology will never see the light of day as it'll be bought and buried by the dental industry!
Metal Organic Kraftwerk
Given my experience with wisdom teeth, the risk of infection and death from growing new teeth in old age would be more than enough of an evolutionary deterrent
Christian Lassen
martinwinlow, what makes you think that? If this works, dentists will be all over it, learning to do it so they can provide it to their patients and earn money doing so! It's not a bad thing to do something for someone and...get paid for it. if it works and is good, people will want it and will happily pay money for it. And they'll pay as much money for it as they think it's worth. What's wrong with that?

The reason things get suppressed is either poor marketing, or because it's actually a dumb idea. If it's the first, it will eventually come to light. If it's the second, people will dabble and experiment with it for decades until either they quit on it, or make it work well enough to be a good idea. The only real money is in providing something good and useful to people. This should be encouraged.
Ornery Johnson
@martinwinlow You're right about it NOT being a dentist's dream but to think that "somebody" (who? the ADA?) is going to "buy and bury" such a medical advance is a bit silly. If nothing else the dental/medical industry could make billions (trillions?) helping people to regrow their own teeth.

On a separate point, even though my chompers have seen better days, I wouldn't be in line to be one of the first to try this out. If you unleash the activity of bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling, who knows what long-term effects it may have on the rest of your skeleton/cartilage?
Wayne Morellini
Undoubtedly they are going to stiff it around, by insisting that you take an oral drug, when real multi decade long term consequences are unknown, with serious legal consequences. When they can either swish and spot out the drug, or do minute direct topical application. So, the dentist applied it with a precision tip each time. Minimising unforseen interactions in the rest of the body over decades,band also making more work.

Undoubtedly, somebody might find some relatively design natural compound to do this. But, the end is nigh. It turns out root canals can generate a lot of ongoing infection that migrates to the brain. Things are coming out over time, but they have been since the 1930's, when they ignored the original official national researcher, after he found solutions to treating and preventing tooth decay through diet. His name was Western Price, and a lot of advancements had happened since then, to understand why.
Some will like it no doubt, but the rich probably prefer implants, you don't look silly with a little tooth growing in, and you can't get cavities in implants, and you can pick the color. If one grew in a new tooth it would be beaming beacon of pearly white
"No fool like an old fool," elderly gentleman with dentures signs up for the trial & promptly sprouts a tail.
Antonio Storcke
It is good that this is being developed in Japan. If successful, tourists will go to Japan to get their teeth regrown. As we know, the USA is where good medical technology goes to die, so it could be 20 years before the FDA would ever approve it.