Science & Tech

Drug to regrow teeth approved for human trials

Drug to regrow teeth approved for human trials

Scientists are gearing up for human trials for a groundbreaking tooth-growing drug, with hopes to offer those suffering from tooth loss a revoutionary alternative.

Molecular biologist and dentist Katsu Takahashi developed the first-of-its-kind drug by deactivating the uterine sensitization-associated gene-1 (USAG-1) protein, which is known to stop tooth growth. He has been working on tooth regeneration for almost 20 years.

"We want to do something to help those who are suffering from tooth loss or absence," Takahashi explained. "While there has been no treatment to date providing a permanent cure, we feel that people's expectations for tooth growth are high."

By stopping USAG-1 from interacting with other proteins, the drug prompts bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signalling and encourages the growth of new bone and teeth.

The researches noted that mice and ferrets share the same USAG-1 properties as humans. The animals happened to grow new teeth from the drug.

"The USAG-1 protein has a high amino acid homology of 97 per cent between different animal species, including humans, mice, and beagles," researchers explained.

Human trials are set to start in September 2024 at Kyoto University Hospital in Japan, using 30 male participants between the ages of 30 and 64 who are missing at least one molar.

The next phase will look at children who suffer from congenital tooth deficiency, who are missing at least four teeth since birth.

Then, researchers will explore other generations who have lost a tooth due to environmental factors.

If proven successful, the drug could become widely available as soon as 2030.

The promising development in dentistry has the potential to revolutionise the treatment of tooth loss and provide solutions for people across the globe.

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