Tooth Repair Using Alzheimer’s Drug

The discovery of a new method has been found for stimulating the renewal of living stem cells in tooth pulp that uses an Alzheimer’s drug. The team of researchers at King’s College London has made this discovery. An infection, the inner, soft pulp of a tooth can become exposed and infected following a trauma or infection. A thin band of dentine is naturally produced to protect the tooth from infection, which seals the tooth pulp, but might be insufficient to effectively repair large cavities.

The dentists, to treat these larger cavities and fill the holes in the teeth, are currently using man-made cements or fillings, such as calcium and silicon-based products. The cement fails to disintegrate and the normal mineral level of the tooth is never completely restored.

A paper was published in Scientific Reports where the scientists from the Dental Institute at King’s College London have proven a way to stimulate the stem cells in the pulp of the tooth and to generate new dentine. The very best approach would be to see the teeth use their natural ability to repair large cavities rather than using cements or fillings that are prone to infections and often need replacing a number of times. Infections often occur when fillings fail or infection occurs, and the dentist has to remove and fill an area that is then larger than when the original treatment of the tooth occurred.

All of these issues could be eliminated with this new method of natural tooth repair, providing a more natural solution for patients. A small molecule that was used by the team to stimulate the renewal of the stem cells included Tideglusib, which has previously been used in clinical trials to treat neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease. This could possibly be a real opportunity to fast track the treatment into the dental practice.

The treatment is delivered using biodegradable collagen sponges. The team applied low doses of small molecule glycogen synthase kinase (CSK-3) to the tooth and found that the sponge degraded over time and new dentine replace it. This completed a natural repair. The collagen sponges used are commercially available and clinically approved. This again adds to the potential of the treatment’s swift pick-up and use in dental clinics.

Professor Paul Sharpe from King’s College London, lead author of the study, said “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.”

He also indicated that using a drug that has already been tested in clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease would provide a real opportunity to get this dental treatment into the clinics quickly. Every time a filling is lost and needs to be replaced, the hole they prepare for the new filling becomes much larger than the original. This eventually can lead to the possibility of tooth loss, especially if the original filling was quite large to begin with. This seems like a very good solution to me, as I have had old fillings fall out, creating a larger filling than before when replaced.

Dr Fredda Branyon