Molecular biologists based in the United Kingdom claim to have found a gene they say is responsible for tooth regeneration in mice. They note this discovery could very likely pave the way for incredible breakthroughs in the medical field of human regeneration.
The University of Plymouth research of team studied the human genome, looking for signaling molecules they believe to responsible for the regeneration of teeth in mice. Of course, the next step is to investigate the potential—even probable—link to the associated gene in humans. This means, we have a way to regrow teeth in a “natural way.”
Human teeth are already made up of dead enamel but, of course, that is combined with living elements too: dentin, nerve tissue, pulp, etc.
Essentially, the study compels that stem cell have the potential to be developed into specialized regenerative cell types. This includes dental cells, obviously; and the team now believes they have narrowed down the genetic factor—a gene called DLK1—as one that enhances stem cell activation as well as tissue regeneration.
These particular cells contribute to the natural formation of tooth dentin which, of course, makes up most of the body of a tooth.
University of Plymouth Dental School’s Dr. Bing Hu explains, “Stem cells are so important, as, in the future, they could be used by laboratories to regenerate tissues that have been damaged or lost due to disease—so it’s vital to understand how they work.”
Obviously, this discovery of a new stromal cell population is quite exciting, posing many possible uses in regenerative medicine.
Hu goes on to say, “So far, these are all laboratory experiments, and we will have to do a lot of work before we can apply similar methods to treat a person. On the other hand, we can already say that this is a big breakthrough in regenerative medicine, which will radically change the life of patients in the near future.”
With all this promise, though, the process of regulatory approval for testing and experimenting in humans could still take many years.