Scientists discover drug for Alzheimer’s helps restore teeth
Scientists have found that a drug already in use to treat Alzheimer’s patients can encourage tooth regrowth and repair cavities.
Researchers at King’s College London found that the drug Tideglusib stimulates the stem cells contained in the pulp of teeth so that they generate new dentine, the mineralised material under the enamel.
Teeth already have the capability of regenerating dentine if the pulp inside the tooth becomes exposed through a trauma or infection; however, they can only naturally make a very thin layer, and cannot make enough to fill the deep cavities caused by tooth decay. Tideglusib, on the other hand, switches off an enzyme called GSK-3 which prevents dentine from continuing to form.
Scientists showed it is possible to soak a small biodegradable sponge with the drug and insert it into a cavity, where it then triggers the growth of dentine and repairs the damage within six weeks. The tiny sponges are made out of collagen, and as such they melt away over time, leaving only the repaired tooth.
Dr Nigel Carter, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, was quoted in The Telegraph to say that “This is an extremely interesting and novel approach which shows great promise and we will look forward to it being translated into clinical application”
Professor Paul Sharpe of the Dental Institute, King’s College London, and lead author of the study was also quoted to say “The simplicity of our approach makes it ideal as a clinical dental product for the natural treatment of large cavities, by providing both pulp protection and restoring dentine.”
Professor Sharpe continued to note that “using a drug that has already been tested in clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease provides a real opportunity to get this dental treatment quickly into clinics.”