Researchers work out how to regrow teeth using cell-free molecular therapy; what next?

  •   2 min reads
Researchers work out how to regrow teeth using cell-free molecular therapy; what next?

Researchers applying cell-free molecular therapy say they have managed to stimulate teeth growth in mice, the allure of adult humans re-growing teeth beckons: one wonders what next.

"Smile, please. Why aren't you smiling, come on, it might never happen." Well, maybe the individual concerned isn't smiling because they are conscious of their lack of teeth. Let's face it, losing our teeth is something most of us dread. Or, for that matter, we dread having rotten teeth or awkwardly shaped teeth. Freddie Mercury famously covered his mouth when talking to hide his teeth— although in his case, he felt it was the shape of his teeth which defined his voice. Or take the invention of the toothbrush — something that goes back to ancient Sumer and Egypt. Was this not one of the most important innovations ever? And an under-rated innovation at that. Suppose, however, we worked out how to regrow teeth. Would that not be a breakthrough to behold — literally and figuratively. Well, researchers from Kyoto University and the University of Fukui reckon they are cracking it.

At least, they say that they have managed to regrow teeth in mice that suffer from a congenital condition called tooth agenesis. The next step is ferrets, which apparently have "similar dental patterns to humans."  So start looking out for lots of smiling ferrets.
The secret lies partially in a gene called USAG-1 and applying monoclonal antibodies.

Katsu Takahashi, one of the lead researchers on the project, said that after testing their technology on ferrets, "Our next plan is to test the antibodies on other animals such as pigs and dogs."
Another lead researcher, Manabu Sugai, said: "Conventional tissue engineering is not suitable for tooth regeneration. Our study shows that cell-free molecular therapy is effective for a wide range of congenital tooth  agenesis."

It is another example of how technology, in part by applying our growing understanding of genetics, can dramatically impact the world. If that means regrowing teeth, then would that not be an incredible advance, an example of technology applied for the betterment of humanity?

But what next?

If we learn how to regrow teeth, what else might we do — the reversal of ageing itself is undoubtedly getting closer.

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