1. A new approach to anchor teeth back in the jaw using stem cells has been developed and successfully tested in the laboratory for the first time by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
The new strategy represents a potential major advance in the battle against gum disease, a serious infection that eventually leads to tooth loss. About 80 percent of U.S. adults suffer from gum disease, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.
Researchers in UIC's Brodie Laboratory for Craniofacial Genetics used stem cells obtained from the periodontal ligament of molars extracted from mice, expanded them in an incubator, and then seeded them on barren rat molars. The stem cell-treated molars were reinserted into the tooth sockets of rats.
After two and four months, the stem cells aligned and formed new fibrous attachments between the tooth and bone, firmly attaching the replanted tooth into the animal's mouth, said Smit Dangaria, a bioengineering doctoral candidate who conducted the research. Tissue sections showed that the replanted tooth was surrounded by newly formed, functional periodontal ligament fibers and new cementum, the essential ingredients of a healthy tooth attachment.
In contrast, tooth molars that were replanted without new stem/progenitor cells were either lost or loosely attached and were resorbed, Dangaria said.
* Our research uncovered the code required to reattach teeth -- a combination of natural tooth root surface structure together with periodontal progenitor cells
* Our strategy could be used for replanting teeth that were lost due to trauma or as a novel approach for tooth replacement using tooth-shaped replicas
2. Tooth enamel regeneration has been improved with an artificial matrix.
The regenerative capability of enamel, the hardest tissue in the vertebrate body, is fundamentally limited due to cell apoptosis following maturation of the tissue. Synthetic strategies to promote enamel formation have the potential to repair damage, increase the longevity of teeth and improve the understanding of the events leading to tissue formation. Using a self-assembling bioactive matrix, we demonstrate the ability to induce ectopic formation of enamel at chosen sites adjacent to a mouse incisor cultured in vivo under the kidney capsule. The resulting material reveals the highly organized, hierarchical structure of hydroxyapatite crystallites similar to native enamel. This artificially triggered formation of organized mineral demonstrates a pathway for developing cell fabricated materials for treatment of dental caries, the most ubiquitous disease in man. Additionally, the artificial matrix provides a unique tool to probe cellular mechanisms involved in tissue formation further enabling the development of tooth organ replacements.
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