How nerve signal pathways can create new tooth growth
This article could easily be full of scientific jargon that is really hard to understand, but instead we’ve broken that down into a format that hopefully everyone can understand. Recent discoveries have shown that by setting up signal transduction pathways developed from proteins that pass signals through the cell receptors, it is possible to activate these signals in dental stem cells, which in turn promotes new tooth growth.
Still following? The signal pathways that make this work are known as Wnt signals, which loosely stands for “wingless-related information site”, which gets its name from a characterized gene called Drosophilia – this is the biological name for the fruit fly. Let’s not get too deep into that, though. These Wnt proteins are all forms of glycoproteins, and they have plasma membranes in each that allow them to bond to fatty acids. By eating carbohydrates, we ingest complex compounds that allow the Wnt proteins to activate these different signaling pathways – so these impressive and complicated-sounding reactions come about just as a cause of the natural human diet for most people, which is handy.
What part do these Wnt proteins have to play in the overall mechanism? There is a transcription factor called SOX-2, which is a protein that binds to specific DNA sequences. It is a critical ingredient in developing and causing the self-renewal of stem cells. It is possible to induce pluripotency, or for a better explanation, forcing a stem cell to be of a certain type, which obviously helps when trying to develop dental stem cells.
When a stem cell is SOX-2 positive, meaning that it contains this transcription factor, it allows signals to be secreted through pathways that promote tooth growth throughout the oral cavity. The inductive potential, or the ability of a stem cell to receive one of these signals, is retained in the postnatal tissue from birth, and by focusing on making the Wnt protein signal flow to these dental stem cells, it is possible to promote generation of new teeth growth.
Normally, adults and teenagers past the age of around 14 are not able to have new teeth growth as the body has reached a certain stage called the second dentition. For new teeth to form in the oral cavity after this age, they would normally appear in abnormal places and cause discomfort to whomever has to deal with it. By investigating this kind of regenerative medicine, developments are leading towards being able to bypass this second dentition stage and cause new tooth growth anyway, as the dental stem cells introduce de novo growth.
Those companies and market leaders that are working with these new technologies, such as BioEden, are aiming to use these new research developments to promote the use of dental stem cells to regenerate teeth in both children and adults, and they are aiming to make a real difference to those that have suffered from irreversible tooth decay and genetic teeth-based issues without having to resort to false teeth.