Teeth: a future renewable natural resource?

November 21, 2006

Most vertebrates have continuous tooth generation, meaning that lost teeth are replaced with new teeth. Mammals, however, including humans, have teeth that are generally only replaced once, when milk teeth are replaced with permanent teeth.

Researchers from the Institute of Biotechnology at the University of Helsinki and their collaborators from Berlin and Kyoto have now shown that continuous tooth generation can be induced in mammals. The research results were published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA (PNAS).

The researchers activated the Wnt signalling pathway in mouse tissue; this signalling pathway is one of those used for cell communication and plays an important role in embryonic development. As a result of stimulating this particular signalling, one mouse molar developed dozens of new teeth with normal dentin, tooth enamel and developing roots. The crowns were, however, simple and cone-shaped, unlike the typically more complex multiple cusps of mouse molars.

The development of the new teeth was studied through tissue culture, and it became clear they were the result of germination from previously developed teeth, just like the teeth of lower vertebrates. The evolutionary trend in mammalian dentition has generally been toward a decrease in tooth generation, as well as towards a more complex shape of the crowns of teeth. The research indicates that Wnt signalling could have played a crucial role in these changes during evolution.

The results also suggest that mice have retained incipient potential for continuous tooth generation and that it can be unlocked by activating Wnt signalling. It is reasonable to conjecture that the potential for continuous tooth generation may also have been retained in humans. Who knows: perhaps dentists in the distant future may be able to use this million-year-old regenerative potential to make their patients grow new teeth to replace lost ones.

Source: University of Helsinki

Explore further: Biochemist, physicist team to see antibacterial TCS deform mitochondria

Related Stories

Biochemist, physicist team to see antibacterial TCS deform mitochondria

May 28, 2018
Grocery shopping can be an illuminating chore for a toxicologist.

Middle-aged tooth loss linked to increased coronary heart disease risk

March 21, 2018
Losing two or more teeth in middle age is associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk, according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association's Epidemiology and Prevention / Lifestyle and ...

Absence of a transcription factor halts tooth development in mid-stride

April 11, 2018
Amjad Javed, Ph.D., and University of Alabama at Birmingham colleagues have found a key role in tooth development for the transcription factor Specificity protein 7, or Sp7.

The novel insights of proteoglycans in mineralized tissues

March 25, 2018
The 47th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Dental Research (AADR), held in conjunction with the 42nd Annual Meeting of the Canadian Association for Dental Research (CADR), featured a symposium titled "The Novel ...

Mouse teeth providing new insights into tissue regeneration

April 27, 2017
Researchers hope to one day use stem cells to heal burns, patch damaged heart tissue, even grow kidneys and other transplantable organs from scratch. This dream edges closer to reality every year, but one of the enduring ...

Genetic defects in tooth enamel conducive to development of caries

February 7, 2017
Bacteria are not the sole cause of caries; tooth resistance also plays an instrumental role. Researchers from the University of Zurich demonstrate that mutated genes lead to defects in the tooth enamel and can therefore encourage ...

Recommended for you

Research reveals zero proof probiotics can ease your anxiety

June 20, 2018
If you're expecting probiotics to reduce your anxiety, it might be time to put down that yogurt spoon—or supplement bottle—and call a professional instead.

Compound made inside human body stops viruses from replicating

June 20, 2018
The newest antiviral drugs could take advantage of a compound made not by humans, but inside them. A team of researchers has identified the mode of action of viperin, a naturally occurring enzyme in humans and other mammals ...

Simple sugar delays neurodegeneration caused by enzyme deficiency

June 20, 2018
A new therapeutic approach may one day delay neurodegeneration typical of a disease called mucopolysaccharidoses IIIB (MPS IIIB). Neurodegeneration in this condition results from the abnormal accumulation of essential cellular ...

Long-term estrogen therapy changes microbial activity in the gut, study finds

June 20, 2018
Long-term therapy with estrogen and bazedoxifene alters the microbial composition and activity in the gut, affecting how estrogen is metabolized, a new study in mice found.

Researchers use AI to improve mammogram interpretation

June 20, 2018
In an effort to reduce errors in the analyses of diagnostic images by health professionals, a team of researchers from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory has improved understanding of the cognitive processes ...

Everything big data claims to know about you could be wrong

June 19, 2018
When it comes to understanding what makes people tick—and get sick—medical science has long assumed that the bigger the sample of human subjects, the better. But new research led by UC Berkeley suggests this big-data ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.