Can we regrow our teeth? Japanese scientists say yes!

Imagine a future where losing a tooth isn’t a permanent problem. No more dentures, no more implants—just a brand new tooth growing right where the old one used to be. This futuristic scenario might be closer than you think, thanks to the research from Japan. A team of scientists and a biotech startup are on the verge of making tooth regrowth a reality.Here’s everything you need to know about this exciting development.

What is the science behind the regrowth of teeth?

The concept of regrowing teeth revolves around an antibody drug developed by Toregem Biopharma, a Kyoto University-affiliated startup. The drug targets a specific protein, known as uterine sensitization-associated gene-1 (USAG-1), which normally stops tooth growth. By deactivating this protein, the drug essentially removes the brake on tooth formation, allowing new teeth to develop naturally.

Teeth (1)

Dr. Katsu Takahashi, head of dentistry and oral surgery at Kitano Hospital, has been a key figure in this research. His work has shown that blocking the USAG-1 protein triggers the formation of new tooth buds. This process was successfully demonstrated in animals like mice and ferrets, where the treated subjects grew new teeth without serious side effects.

What happens after the trial?

The journey from lab to patient is a long one, but Toregem Biopharma is making significant progress. The company is set to launch Phase 1 clinical trials in September, marking the first time this treatment will be tested in humans. The initial trials will involve 30 healthy male adults who are missing at least one molar. The primary goal of these trials is to ensure the drug’s safety in humans.
If these trials are successful, the next phase will focus on children aged 2 to 7 who suffer from congenital anodontia—a condition where some or all teeth are missing from birth. This condition affects approximately 0.1% of the population, and current treatments are limited to dentures or implants. The hope is that this drug can provide a more natural and permanent solution.

While the prospect of regrowing teeth is exciting, it’s important to know that the journey is far from over. After Phase 1 trials, there will be additional phases focusing on effectiveness and broader applications. Phase 2 trials, planned for 2025, will involve children with congenital anodontia, assessing whether the drug can effectively stimulate tooth growth in young patients.
Following these, a third trial will focus on older adults who have lost teeth due to environmental factors. These trials are crucial for determining the drug’s efficacy across different age groups and conditions.
If all goes according to plan, Toregem Biopharma aims to bring this revolutionary treatment to market by 2030. The company envisions the drug being offered at around 1.5 million yen (approximately $9,800), with hopes that it will eventually be covered by health insurance.
The implications of this treatment are enormous. Not only could it provide a solution for those with congenital anodontia, but it could also help millions of people who lose teeth due to injury, disease, or ageing. This could transform dental care, offering a more natural and less invasive alternative to current solutions like dentures and implants.

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