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Can a New Drug Help Regenerate Lost Teeth?

As adults live longer, the request for dental implants continues to grow.

As adults live longer, the request for dental implants continues to grow. Unfortunately, the longevity of dental implants is dependent on many factors, including the person’s level of oral hygiene. Researchers at Kyoto University and University of Fuki in Japan may be closer to finding a solution to help older adults keep their original dentition. Based on an animal model, their study “Anti–USAG-1 Therapy for Tooth Regeneration Through Enhanced BMP Signaling” has shown how suppressing the uterine sensitization associated gene-1 (USAG-1) by using its antibody can regrow teeth. 

Their findings, published in Science Advances, suggest anti–USAG-1 antibody administration may be a successful approach for tooth regeneration therapy.

According to the University of Fuki, scientists investigated the effects of monoclonal antibodies for USAG-1. 

“We knew that suppressing USAG-1 benefits tooth growth. What we did not know was whether it would be enough,” said Katsu Takahashi, lead author of the study and an associate professor at Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine, Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. The research shows that “blocking USAG-1 function through USAG-1 knockout or anti–USAG-1 antibody administration relieves congenital tooth agenesis caused by various genetic abnormalities in mice.”

Investigators focused on the USAG-1 gene that interacts with the two molecules responsible for tooth development, bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) and Wnt signaling. They found administering USAG-1–neutralizing antibodies affects BMP signaling only. The single administration was enough to generate a whole tooth in mice, and subsequently in ferrets.

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