In Japan, scientists have recently succeeded in regenerating teeth in mice. To do this, they used a monoclonal antibody. In the more or less near future, it may be possible to regenerate the teeth of humans.
A still experimental treatment
Between 6 and 12 years old, 32 permanent teeth appear in humans. Sometimes it is possible that an extra tooth usually appears near the incisors. On the contrary, it may be missing teeth due to a dental agenesis, a condition of congenital origin. Most often, it is a question of the absence of wisdom teeth, but sometimes of “normal” teeth. In the latter case, it is the responsibility of place a dental prosthesis (or an implant), a costly act that Health Insurance does not always cover.
Researchers from several Japanese universities say they have found a serious lead in a publication of the journal Scientific progress of February 12, 2021. The goal? Regenerate one or more missing teeth. This is about a still experimental treatment of which only mice are the object. Scientists are working on an antibody interfering with signaling pathways blocking tooth growth.
The study evokes the USAG-1 gene, encoding a protein of the same name involved in the growth of teeth. From the moment this gene is expressed, it stops development and thus prevents the appearance of additional teeth. When this same gene is deficient or the protein is not active, the teeth grow out of control and this gives rise to additional teeth.
Act on the control of tooth development
Researchers have developed monoclonal antibodies against the USAG-1 protein. It would prevent interactions with signaling pathways such as BMP and Wnt. The aim of this research is to verify whether the injection of the antibody stimulates or not the development of the teeth in mice suffering from congenital dental agenesis of genetic origin.
The researchers injected antibodies into mice during pregnancy in order to analyze the dentition of their young. However, the regrowth of certain teeth has been observed, namely a mandibular molar as well as maxillary and mandibular incisors. According to the study leaders, the antibodies bind to the part of USAG-1 interacting with LRP5 / 6. It is a coreceptor playing a role in the BMP signaling pathway involved in the control of tooth development.
This success confirms that it is possible to regenerate several teeth in mice, and possibly in humans. However, the study leaders believe that anti-USAG-1 monoclonal antibodies should only be used when there is a question of congenital tooth agenesis.