NJCBM and collaborators have recently published an article in Tissue Engineering: Part A titled: Mandibular Jaw Bone Regeneration Using Human Dental Cell-Seeded Tyrosine-Derived Polycarbonate Scaffolds
This article discusses revolutionary research aiming to regenerate human teeth without the use of any artificial materials. Once a tooth is lost due to trauma or disease, the only option currently available is the implantation of a metallic tooth replacement that is capped with a ceramic crown. It looks like a real tooth, but it does not function like one and may fail after a few years of implantation.
The development of a living tooth replacement is a daunting task, which so far has never been accomplished. The research described in this publication discusses a new model to regrow jawbone, specifically the alveolar bone, which is the part of the jaw that holds and grows the teeth. The goal is to create and test a scaffold upon which both bone and teeth can grow. Currently available scaffolds are designed for bone growth only.
Several different scaffold and cell combinations were studied in groups of rats with jaw bone defects for 6 weeks. The most exciting outcome of this early research was that in scaffolds with dental pulp cells, bone growth was observed together with the formation of tooth-like tissues. In scaffolds without dental pulp cells, only bone regrowth occurred, but no tooth-like tissue was seen. The success of the work is due in part to the uniquely cell friendly properties of the tyrosine-derived polycarbonate scaffolds that were used in this study.
It is important to note that this work is still very preliminary and it will take many more years to bring living tooth regeneration to the dentist’s office.
In this image from the article, the red staining shows the growth of tooth-like tissue on the scaffold (highlighted with white arrows)
Full article available here: