Scientists at Plymouth University have made an exciting discovery, which could make regenerating the teeth a possibility in the future.
A team of researchers from the university has discovered a new group of stem cells and the gene, which activates it. This group is responsible for the formation of skeletal and tooth tissue, most notably dentin. Dentin is the hard tissue that protects the nerves, the blood vessels and the pulp tissue, and it is found beneath the enamel surface. At the moment, when a tooth is damaged, it can only be restored, usually by means of a crown or a filling. With this new stem cell research, it could be possible to regenerate damaged tissue and effectively grow new teeth.
Lead researcher, Dr Bing Hu, said that the importance and value of stem cells is well-documented, but to fully understand the capabilities of stem cells, it’s crucial to learn how they work. The group discovered new stem cells, as well as the gene that activates them, known as Dlkl. By finding the stem cells and the gene, and investigating how Dlkl is involved in stem cell regeneration, the team has made major strides to understand stem cell regeneration. The research can now form a base for further exploration and to determine how to develop lab-based techniques for human use.
Co-author of the study, Prof Christopher Tredwin, head of the Peninsula Dental School at Plymouth University, said that the research will hopefully provide dental patients with more effective, affordable solutions for tooth problems and injuries in the future.
Dental injuries and diseases are commonplace in the UK, with 170 extraction procedures carried out on under 18’s every day.
The findings have been published in the Nature Communications journal.