Tuesday, April 7, 2009

New genetic discovery may help people to regrow teeth

Site of the day: http://www.cycfoundation.org/

Geneticists at the University of Rochester said Thursday their discovery could spur work to help adults one day grow new teeth when theirs wear out.

The researchers said people and most other mammals have a gene that prevents additional tooth formation.

When the scientists bred mice that lacked that gene, the rodents developed extra teeth next to their first molars - backups like sharks and other nonmammals grow.

If wondering about shark teeth seems rather wonky, consider: Tooth loss from gum disease is a major problem, and dentures or dental implants are far from perfect treatments.

If scientists knew what triggers a new tooth to grow, it's possible they could switch that early-in-life process on again during adulthood to regenerate teeth.

"It's exciting. We've got a clue what to do," said Dr. Songtao Shi of the University of Southern California School of Dentistry, who said the Rochester discovery will help his research into how to grow a new tooth from scratch.

Also intriguing: All mice born without this gene, called Osr2, had cleft palates severe enough to kill. A better understanding of this gene might play a role in efforts to prevent that birth defect.

From Daily News:

I also decided to put it here, because this is important news:

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