- Title: Alzheimer's drug helps teeth repair themselves, trial shows
- Date: 17th January 2017
- Summary: LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (FILE - JULY 30, 2015) (REUTERS) WIDE OF DENTIST WORKING ON PATIENT VARIOUS OF PATIENT AND DENTIST CLOSE OF DENTAL X-RAYS CLOSE OF DENTAL INSTRUMENTS ON TRAY / BLOOD-STAINED COTTON WOOL
- Embargoed: 31st January 2017 16:07
- Keywords: dentists fillings dental Alzheimer's King's College London
- Location: LONDON, ENGLAND, UK
- City: LONDON, ENGLAND, UK
- Country: United Kingdom
- Topics: Health/Medicine
- Reuters ID: LVA0045ZH0CIJ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Researchers believe they may be close to perfecting a method of encouraging teeth to repair themselves, making the filling a thing of the past.
The team at King's College London found a drug already tested in patients can stimulate regrowth in decayed teeth, repairing cavities naturally, without the need for a filling.
"We've developed a really simple system. It involves putting a drug on a little sponge that goes inside the tooth, in the hole that the dentist has made. It stimulates this natural process, which is starting to occur anyway following the damage, but it over-activates the process so you actually get the big hole repaired and the repair is a production of the natural material, the dentine," said Professor Paul Sharpe of the Centre for Regenerative Dentistry.
Significantly, the team have re-purposed Tideglusib, a drug previously approved for use in clinical trials to treat neurological disorders including Alzheimer's disease.
"The Alzheimer's bit is really rather irrelevant, the important thing to us is that this drug has been in patients. So there is safety data to show what side-effects from the doses that were used and delivered into the bloodstream. We are using much smaller doses and we're delivering them locally, just in a tooth. So the hope is that that kind of safety data that's been obtained with very high concentrations, given repeatedly into the bloodstream, will put us in a very good position to go along to the regulatory authorities and say, look, this drugs already had all this safety data, this is the concentration we're using, this is how we're delivering it and our hope is that that will accelerate the time we can get this into a clinical trial and get it into patients," Sharpe said.
Using commercially available biodegradable collagen sponges to deliver the treatment, the team applied low doses of glycogen synthase kinase (GSK-3) inhibitors to the tooth.
They found that the sponge degraded over time and that new dentine replaced it, leading to complete, natural repair.
"I think this is so much further forward that it really could be quite exciting and offer an alternative when we look at filling materials that are currently available," said Dr Nigel Carter of the Oral Health Foundation.
"We're looking at an agreed phase down of silver-amalgam, the silver fillings that we have in our teeth and some of the other composite alternatives whilst very good have question marks over them as well. So actually regrowing the tooth that's been lost with a cavity would be really a huge step forward but it's also important that we remember that we shouldn't be getting the cavity in the first place. We're talking about a totally preventable disease," Carter added.
The research does not mean the end of the dreaded drill just yet as dentists still need to remove any infected or decaying dentine and create a hole for the sponge to be inserted into.
There is also, as yet, no way of regrowing the thin layer of enamel that protects the dentine.
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