Researchers from King’s College London have shown that an Alzheimer’s drug can stimulate the stem cells found in tooth pulp and generate a protective material, dentine, in large cavities. The team’s work was published yesterday in Scientific Reports.
If the soft pulp of a tooth becomes infected after a traumatic event, a thin layer of dentine is naturally produced to seal the pulp and protect the tooth from infection. But this layer is not enough to fix large cavities, so dentists use man-made fillings to fill holes in teeth.
The team from King’s College London used small molecules, including the Alzheimer’s drug Tideglusib, to trigger the body to make stem cells and create new dentine. Because the researchers used a drug which is already in practice, the treatment could potentially be fast-tracked.
“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,” lead author Paul Sharpe said in prepared remarks. “In addition, 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.”
The researchers applied small doses of glycogen synthase kinase (GSK-3) inhibitors to the teeth of mice, using biodegradable collagen sponges to deliver the small molecule drugs. Over time, the sponge degraded and new dentine formed in its place.
Although the study was completed in mice, which have much smaller molars than humans, the team claimed that the anticipated concentrations of Tideglusib needed for human tooth repair would still be less than what has already been tested in clinical trials.