Tooth regeneration

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1.-Tooth-regeneration-labThe Lake Malawi cichlid [a type of fish] will never need a set of dentures, but chances are you’ll need a couple of replacements by the time you hit sixty. Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology [Atlanta] and King’s College [London] are studying why fish have the ability to regrow teeth throughout their lives whilst mammal tooth regrowth halts at two sets. The study is a step towards the possibility of human tooth regeneration in the future.

“We have uncovered developmental plasticity between teeth and taste buds, and we are trying to understand the pathways that mediate the fate of cells toward either dental or sensory development,” said Professor Todd Streelman of Georgia Tech School of Biology. “The potential applications to humans makes this interesting to everybody who has dealt with dental issues at one time or another in their lives.”

Members of the study cross bred closely related forms of the Lake Malawai cichlids with differing teeth and tastebud formations, based on environmental feeding patters. From this interbreeding researchers discovered the particular genetic factors associated with teeth growth variants.

“We were able to map the regions of the genome that control a positive correlation between the densities of each of these structures,” said Professor Streelman “And through a collaboration with colleagues at King’s College in London, we were able to demonstrate that a few poorly studied genes were also involved in the development of teeth and taste buds in mice.”

Researchers were then able to manipulate fish embryos to produce varying tooth and tastebud structures. The research suggest that this may lead to the possibility of human tooth regeneration as well.

“Ultimately, this suggests that the epithelium in a human’s mouth might be more plastic than we had previously thought. The direction our research is taking, at least in terms of human health implications, is to figure out how to coax the epithelium to form one type of structure or the other.”

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