- Scientists have found a new way to stimulate the stem cells in the tooth’s pulp and regrow new dentine in bigger cavities.
- This new method utilizes an Alzheimer’s drug to make teeth repair themselves within 6 weeks.
- So far, the procedure has only been used in mouse teeth.
Researchers at King’s College London have developed a new technique to stimulate the regeneration of living stem cells in human tooth pulp using an Alzheimer’s drug.
The inner soft pulp of a tooth can become exposed and infected due to several reasons. According to the BBC report, more than 2.4 billion all over the world have untreated tooth decay problems, and about 190 million new cases are forecasted every year.
To protect the tooth from different kinds of infections, a thin dentine band is naturally created, which seals the tooth pulp. But it doesn’t completely repair large cavities. In order to treat bigger cavities and fill teeth holes, dentists use man-made fillings or cements like silicon or calcium-based products. These artificial products remain in the tooth, but the tooth’s normal mineral level is never entirely restored.
The New Approach
Scientists have found a new way to stimulate the stem cells in the tooth’s pulp and regrow new dentine (hard, dense body tissue forming the bulk of a tooth) in bigger cavities, eliminating the need for cements or fillings.
When infections occur or fillings fail, dentists need to remove and fill the area that is usually larger than what is affected. However, the new method, encouraging natural tooth repair could banish all of these issues.
The research team used Tideglusib for stimulating the regeneration of the stem cells. The same molecule has been used in clinical trials to treat Alzheimer and other neurological disorders.
To deliver the treatment, they applied low doses of small molecule GSK-3 (short for glycogen synthase kinase) inhibitors to the tooth, using biodegradable collagen sponges. The sponge gradually degraded over time and replaced by new dentine, enabling full natural repair.
Collagen sponges are clinically-approved and commercially available. And since they have already been tested in clinical trails for Alzheimer, it provides a great opportunity to quickly get this approach into clinics.
Reference: Nature | doi:10.1038/srep39654
It’s important to consider the effects of GSK-3 after it’s released into the circulation. Small localized doses of these agonists were proved useful for effectively forming reparative dentine within 6 weeks of duration.
These doses are significantly lower than those used in Tideglusib clinical trails, where half to one gram were delivered on a daily basis for 26 weeks. The researchers used a maximum of 21 picogram of Tideglusib on the sponges. Therefore, even if 100 percent drug on the sponge is released within some hours, the maximum systemic concentration would be less than 21 picogram in 1.5 milliliters.
The procedure has only been used in mouse teeth. The blood volume in mice is about 3,000 times smaller that that of a human, which makes the mouse dosage in circulation equivalent to 63 nanogram in the human circulation.
Extrapolating the mouse first molar size to a human, an equivalent lesion would require nearly 10 times more reparative dentine formation. Hence, the anticipated concentrations of Tideglusib needed for human tooth regeneration would be less than that of already tested clinical trials.
According to the researchers, the simplicity of the technique makes it an ideal product for natural treatment of bigger cavities, offering dentine restore as well as pulp protection.