Biodegradable collagen sponges that deliver tideglusib, an Alzheimer’s disease treatment, were shown to stimulate renewal of stem cells in the tooth pulp, encouraging natural tooth repair. Those are the findings from a study published in Scientific Reports.
After an infection or trauma, the inner soft pulp of a tooth can become exposed and infected. To prevent infection, a thin band of dentine is naturally produced and seals the tooth pulp but it is not enough to effectively correct large cavities. Cements or fillings are used to treat the larger cavities and fill in the holes; the cement does not disintegrate and remains in the tooth. If or when fillings fail or infections develop, dentists have to remove and fill an area that is larger than what is affected; tooth extraction may be required after multiple treatments.
Researchers from King’s College London have discovered a method to stimulate stem cells found in the tooth pulp and generate new dentine in large cavities, which could potentially minimize the need for cements or fillings.
One of the small molecules that was investigated in stimulating the cells was tideglusib, an agent previously studied to treat neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers applied low doses of small molecule glycogen synthase kinase (GSK-3) antagonist to the tooth using biodegradable collagen sponges. The sponges degraded with time and new dentine was shown to replace it, resulting in complete repair.
Collagen sponges are clinically approved and available, further adding to the treatment’s potential testing and availability. Professor Paul Sharpe, lead author, stated, “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.”
Neves VCM, Babb R, Chandrasekaran D, Sharpe PT. Promotion of natural tooth repair by small molecule GSK3 antagonists. Scientific Reports. 2017; doi:10.1038/srep39654
This article originally appeared on MPR