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"Every dentist's dream": Tooth regrowth medication moving forward

July 12, 2023
Learn about a "groundbreaking" tooth regrowth drug Japanese scientists say could be in clinical trials as soon as a year from now.
Elizabeth S. Leaver, Digital content manager

Japanese scientists have been working on a “groundbreaking” tooth regrowth drug they say could be ready for general use by 2030.

The Mainchi, a daily newspaper in Japan, reported last month that a research team in Osaka has been working on a tooth regrowth medicine intended for people with congenital agenisis (the term for missing one or more teeth), with clinical trials anticipated to start as soon as July 2024.

Following experiments in 2018, the research team reported that a specific antibody for one gene, uterine sensitization associated gene-1 or USAG-1, could stimulate tooth growth in mice with congenitally missing teeth, ultimately prompting “third-generation” teeth—those following baby teeth and permanent adult teeth—to grow, according to the Mainichi. In 2021, ScienceDaily reported that subsequent experiments showed the same benefits in ferrets—"Diphyodont animals with similar dental patterns to humans,” said Katsu Takahashi, lead researcher and head of the dentistry and oral surgery department at the Medical Research Institute Kitano Hospital in Osaka.

"The idea of growing new teeth is every dentist's dream,” Takahashi told the Mainichi. “I've been working on this since I was a graduate student. I was confident I'd be able to make it happen."

Around the time of Takahashi’s graduate school days, research had begun to identify genes that, when deleted, would cause genetically modified mice to grow fewer teeth. "The number of teeth varied through the mutation of just one gene. If we make that the target of our research, there should be a way to change the number of teeth (people have)," Takahashi said.

Once approved, the medicine is expected to be used initially on young children with congenital agenisis, with researchers’ hopes extending far beyond that: "We're hoping to see a time when tooth-regrowth medicine is a third choice alongside dentures and implants," Takahashi said.

Primarily sourced from World's 1st 'tooth regrowth' medicine moves toward clinical trials in Japan, published in The Mainichi on June 12, 2023