Medical

World-first tooth-regrowing drug will be given to humans in September

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Scientists are about to start growing new teeth in humans
Scientists are about to start growing new teeth in humans
In the ferret study, the drug resulted in the growth of a new tooth (fourth from left), and it also strengthened bone in the existing set
Kitano Hospital

The world's first human trial of a drug that can regenerate teeth will begin in a few months, less than a year on from news of its success in animals. This paves the way for the medicine to be commercially available as early as 2030.

The trial, which will take place at Kyoto University Hospital from September to August 2025, will treat 30 males aged 30-64 who are missing at least one molar. The intravenous treatment will be tested for its efficacy on human dentition, after it successfully grew new teeth in ferret and mouse models with no significant side effects.

"We want to do something to help those who are suffering from tooth loss or absence," said lead researcher Katsu Takahashi, head of dentistry and oral surgery at Kitano Hospital. "While there has been no treatment to date providing a permanent cure, we feel that people's expectations for tooth growth are high."

Following this 11-month first stage, the researchers will then trial the drug on patients aged 2-7 who are missing at least four teeth due to congenital tooth deficiency, which is estimated to affect 1% of people. The team is recruiting for this Phase IIa trial now.

Researchers are then looking at expanding the trial to those with partial edentulism, or people missing one to five permanent teeth due to environmental factors. The incidence of this varies from country to country, but it's estimated around 5% of Americans are missing teeth, with a much higher incidence among older adults.

The medicine itself deactivates the uterine sensitization-associated gene-1 (USAG-1) protein, which suppresses tooth growth. As we reported in 2023, blocking USAG-1's interaction with other proteins encourages bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling, which triggers new bone to generate.

In the ferret study, the drug resulted in the growth of a new tooth (fourth from left), and it also strengthened bone in the existing set
Kitano Hospital

It resulted in new teeth emerging in the mouths of mice and ferrets, species that share close to the same USAG-1 properties as humans.

"The USAG-1 protein has a high amino acid homology of 97% between different animal species, including humans, mice, and beagles," the researchers noted. However, there's no word on a beagle trial just yet…

Molecular biologist and dentist Takahashi has been working on tooth regeneration since 2005, and hopes this treatment won't just be for congenital dental conditions but for anyone who has lost teeth, at any age.

If successful, this therapy could be available to patients with any permanently missing teeth within six years.

Sources: Kitano Hospital, The Mainichi

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10 comments
Alan
"If successful, this therapy could be available to patients with any permanently missing teeth within six years."

Uh huh. Probably at costs that are unaffordable to all but the wealthy. A treatment that grows a tooth is going to be priced at more than whatever an artificial implanted tooth would cost, which my understanding is somewhere in the $3-5k range here in the USA. I doubt most dental plans will cover this cost although perhaps Medicare will cover dental work by then as there are many calls for it to do so.

In a perfect world, there would be multiple concurrent, accelerated trials under way NOW to bring this much needed treatment to people worldwide ASAP. But that's not how capitalism works.
Brian M
Guess this is not surprising, given that many animals continuously replace teeth, even we do but only once!
Ranscapture
Sign me up! Just lost #31 would love to have it back
rgbatduke
Whether or not this works, one day we will be able to regrow lost teeth, of that I'm certain. I still have all of mine, but as I age it is just a matter of time, and mine are already pretty worn in spots.

Wouldn't mind regrowing my cochlea, too. Or at least, replacing the dead hair cells within.
CraigAllenCorson
Oh, to be in Kyoto!
I'm 73, and have no teeth. It would sure be nice to have them back.
Smokey_Bear
Alan, this will be even easier then creating & installing a fake tooth. Which means it will also be cheaper. This is great news, I have all my teeth, but it would be nice knowing, that if I need a new one, it's just a matter of a quick dental visit...and tooth grow time.
Javier
I agree with Smokey-Bear. This technology has been purposefully delayed because it will be way cheaper than implants or bridges or any current techniques. This will be very very cheap. Like $200 per teeth at much
Dianna
Sign me up as a guinea pig
Seriously!
Jimmy the Geek
Because of patents and greed this won't be cheaper than implants and certainly not cheaper than bridges for a long time. As a result it will be private pay as dental insurance generally is very stingy and barely covers procedures now.
MCG
I doubt I could find the article I saved from 2006 when they said this should soon be possible. Thank God it has arrived. I have to say, this is why I love A.I. it is going to fast track everything.