Regrow a tooth? Fish, yes; humans, maybe some day

| October 21, 2015 | Email This Post Email This Post

Regrow a tooth? Fish, yes; humans, maybe some dayWhen a Lake Malawi cichlid loses a tooth, a new one drops neatly into place as a replacement. Why can’t humans similarly regrow teeth lost to injury or disease?

Working with hundreds of these colorful fish, researchers are beginning to understanding how the animals maintain their hundreds of teeth throughout their adult lives. By studying how structures in embryonic fish differentiate into either teeth or taste buds, the researchers hope to one day be able to turn on the tooth regeneration mechanism in humans — which, like other mammals, get only two sets of teeth to last a lifetime.

The work, which also involved a study of dental differentiation in mice, shows that the structures responsible for growing new teeth may remain active for longer than previously thought, suggesting that the process might be activated in human adults.

The research was conducted by scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta and King’s College in London, and published October 19 in early edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research was supported by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

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