Newfound antibody activity could benefit tooth regeneration

April 9, 2021
Newfound antibody activity could benefit tooth regeneration

Scientists from Japan have found that by suppressing activity of a specific gene with monoclonal antibodies, they can promote new tooth growth in mice and ferrets. Understanding and manipulating the way this gene regulates the behaviour of molecules known to be key players in tooth development could someday promise tooth regeneration especially in adults suffering from congenital conditions, according to the scientists from Kyoto University and the University of Fukui.

Studying a pair of molecules called bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) and Wnt – these are known to regulate the growth of various organs and tissues during the very early stages of human development – the scientists homed in on a gene called the uterine sensitisation associated gene-1 (USAG-1).

The scientists suspected that the USAG-1 gene could provide a pathway to interfere in the behaviour of BMP and WnT; but the trouble with targeting the activity of BMP and Wnt in this way is that it generally affects the whole body, given the wide-ranging functions of the molecules.

They soon found one antibody that disrupted the interactions between USAG-1 and BMP only, specifically for the BMP signaling that affects the number of teeth formed.In one case, delivering a one-off dose of the antibody actually resulted in the generation of an entire tooth that wouldn’t have otherwise materialised. Follow-up experiments in ferrets produced similar results.

“Ferrets are diphyodont animals with similar dental patterns to humans,” said Katsu Takahashi, a senior lecturer at the Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine. “Our next plan is to test the antibodies on other animals such as pigs and dogs.”

Should the subsequent experiments produce equally promising results, the scientists imagine this treatment becoming an effective approach to tackling congenital tooth agenesis, a condition characterised by tooth loss.

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