It has recently been discovered at the University of Kyoto and Fukui, that an antibody for a gene is able to stimulate tooth growth in mice that were suffering from tooth agenesis. Tooth agenesis is a disease where teeth are missing. Many external factors can cause tooth agenesis as it turns out. According to NCBI “Environmental factors can cause sporadic tooth agenesis. Maternal rubella virus infection can lead to tooth agenesis and to other morphologic dental abnormalities. Orofacial trauma during odontogenesis may result in tooth agenesis in the region of trauma.” The name of this specific gene, is called USAG-1, which antagonizes two molecules essential in tooth growth called BMP and Wnt. The current theory is to inhibit the USAG-1 gene since it plays a role in stopping tooth growth by antagonizing BMP and Wnt.
However, it is still unknown whether the inhibition of USAG-1 in an individual with tooth agenesis, will be sufficient to stimulate tooth growth. To test this, the group Science Advances ran mice with purified USAG-1 antibodies through a series of tests. They stated “To investigate whether inhibition of USAG-1 function rescues congenital tooth agenesis, we purified five mouse USAG-1 monoclonal antibodies (#12, #16, #37, #48, and #57) using a bioactive human USAG-1 recombinant protein derived from Escherichia coli as an antigen and USAG-1−/− mice.” The results were hopeful. “Further, we succeeded in obtaining USAG-1–neutralizing antibodies with the potential to generate a whole new tooth, even in wild-type mice. The phenotypic changes in these mice were similar to those in USAG-1-KO mice, suggesting that this antibody may rescue the rudimental tooth primordia in USAG-1–deficient mice.”
It has also been found from the same study that this same process can result in a third dentition. Humans generally only have 2 dentitions of teeth. First rudimentary set being the set developed in early years, and the second being the mostly permanent set to last the rest of the individual’s lifetime. The research group stated “stimulation of the third dentition by targeted molecular therapy may be a viable approach for whole tooth regeneration. In the current study, we showed that systemic application of a USAG-1–neutralizing antibody could regenerate a whole tooth like the third dentition in ferrets, which are diphyodont animals with the similar dental pattern to human. However, the clinical application of this modality will require further investigation in nonrodent models, such as suncuses, dogs, or pigs, in addition to ferrets.” This experiment sparks light on a very hopeful future for tooth loss, but it is still early in progress and more research still must be done to determine its success.
ScienceDaily. (2021, March 29). New drug to regenerate lost teeth. ScienceDaily. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/03/210329122852.htm.
Murashima-Suginami, A., Kiso, H., Tokita, Y., Mihara, E., Nambu, Y., Uozumi, R., Tabata, Y., Bessho, K., Takagi, J., Sugai, M., & Takahashi, K. (2021, February 1). Anti–USAG-1 therapy for tooth regeneration through enhanced BMP signaling. Science Advances. https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/7/7/eabf1798.