Budding hopes for dental regrowth

2 minute read

So far it’s only worked in ferrets, but they’re closer to us than you’d think.

Back in the mists of the distant past, your primary school-aged Back Page scribbler came a gutser on an icy incline, with the ensuing faceplant resulting in countless hours in a dentist’s chair having caps, and eventually crowns, installed to repair the damage.

Such is the curse of having been born too early.

If your slippery-sloper had been a young lad nowadays, he could consider taking part in human trials aimed at proving whether a new antibody drug can be used to regrow human teeth.

According to a report in the Japan Times, a Japanese pharmaceutical company called Toregem Biopharma says it has developed a drug that counteracts the proteins in the mouth responsible for suppressing tooth growth.

The drug works by inhibiting a gene called USAG-1. The role of this gene is to prevent “tooth buds,” which most people have, from developing into either baby teeth or permanent teeth.

Earlier animal trials back in 2018, using ferrets – which apparently have similar tooth buds to humans – proved successful.  

So now the human trials will begin with children aged between two and six years who have anodontia, a genetic disorder that stops them from developing permanent teeth.

These non-ferret clinical trials are set to kick off in July next year with a target of bringing the drug to market by 2030.

“[Our] final goal is to offer advanced and scientifically driven clinical solution for the growth of teeth derived from their own tissues,” Toregem’s president Honoka Kiso wrote on the company’s website.

Eventually the company hopes it may even be able to use its drug to help tooth-deprived adults to regrow their fangs and become a viable third option to implants or dentures.

So perhaps there is hope for your klutzy correspondent after all. Although we suspect that by the time this development eventuates, we will probably only be eating mushy foods or receiving liquid nourishment via a tube.

Sending story tips to penny@medicalrepublic.com.au can whiten and brighten your smile.   

End of content

No more pages to load

Log In Register ×