Missing Teeth? A Breakthrough “Tooth Regrowth” Drug Heads to Human Trials

For people missing teeth from birth defects or other causes, replacement options like dentures or implants are currently the only solutions. But that could change if an experimental drug proves successful in an upcoming clinical trial led by Japanese researchers.

The drug, called TRG035, is an antibody that targets a protein called USAG-1. The researchers discovered several years ago that the USAG-1 protein acts as a natural brake on tooth development. By using an antibody to neutralize USAG-1, they could release this brake and coax the regrowth of teeth in mouse and ferret studies.

Dr. Katsu Takahashi, a dentist at Kitano Hospital in Osaka who is leading the clinical trial, stated that their approach of using an antibody against the USAG-1 protein has successfully restored tooth formation in animal models of congenital tooth agenesis and other conditions causing missing teeth from birth. He said they now aim to test if this remarkable tooth regeneration can be replicated in humans through the trial.

The phase 1 trial, set to begin in September 2024, will involve 30 male participants ages 30-64 who are each missing at least one tooth. They will receive intravenous doses of TRG035 over an 11-month period to assess the drug’s safety and tooth regenerative capabilities. 

If replicated in humans, this approach could revolutionize dental treatments. The treatment could provide a way to permanently restore missing teeth, rather than just replacing them artificially. Takahashi hopes this could one day benefit anyone who has lost teeth, not just those with congenital defects.

While many hurdles remain, the upcoming trial represents a key step toward the world’s first biological tooth regeneration drug. Stay tuned for updates on this pioneering research in the years ahead.

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