Japanese scientists are making progress in tooth regeneration, with successful results in mice, ferrets and dogs.
It is hoped the breakthrough discovery, reported in The Times, can be used for human teeth lost either due to genetic defects or decay, potentially revolutionising dental care.
Toregem Biopharma, a pharmaceutical startup at Kyoto University, developed an antibody drug that stimulates dormant ‘tooth buds’ that typically recede in adults, mimicking the natural process of tooth growth.
Researchers were initially inspired by studies of mice with additional teeth, which led them to identify a gene that inhibits tooth bud growth.
After five years of studies in mice and ferrets, the drug will be ready for human testing next summer, starting with children afflicted by anodontia, a condition where permanent teeth fail to develop.
Katsu Takahashi, co-founder of Toregem Biopharma, told the Japan Times: “A child’s lack of teeth can affect the development of the jawbone. We hope the drug will serve as a key to solving those problems.”