Picture the tooth fairy's delight as Japanese pharmaceutical company Toregem Biopharma reveals an exciting breakthrough in dental health: they designed an antibody drug that targets mouth proteins hindering tooth growth. Their goal? Tooth regeneration using the body's own tissues.

A regrown tooth in a ferret's mouth after it was given the drug. Photo credit: Katsu Takahashi

This new drug has the potential to regenerate human teeth, tapping into the body's natural abilities to bring back those pearly whites. Triumphs in animal trials with ferrets left everyone with their jaws on the floor, boosting optimism that the same success could translate to human teeth as well. This could mean that in the future, invasive procedures like implants or dentures might become a thing of the past. 

Co-founder Katsu Takahashi envisions a future where tooth-regrowth medicine is a viable option alongside dentures and implants.

Simply put, the drug works by stopping a gene called USAG-1 from putting the brakes on the growth of "tooth buds," which are crucial for forming teeth. By blocking this gene, Toregem's drug encourages the buds to grow, paving the way for tooth regeneration.

Katsu Takahashi head of the dentistry and oral surgery department at the Medical Research Institute Kitano Hospital. Photo credit: Mainichi/Mirai Nagira

Looking ahead, trials are planned for children aged 2 to 6 with anodontia, a genetic condition causing the absence of permanent teeth, starting in 2025. Beyond genetic disorders, Toregem Biopharma aims to help adults who have lost teeth due to issues like cavities. Co-founder and lead researcher Katsu Takahashi is optimistic about the impact of this innovation. He envisions a future where tooth-regrowth medicine is a viable option alongside dentures and implants, highlighting the potential of blending technology with natural processes to tackle dental health challenges.

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