A new method of stimulating the renewal of living
stem cells in tooth pulp using an Alzheimer’s drug
has been discovered by a team of researchers at
King’s College London.
Following trauma or an infection, the inner, soft
pulp of a tooth can become exposed and infected. In
order to protect the tooth from infection, a thin
band of dentine is naturally produced and this seals
the tooth pulp, but it is insufficient to
effectively repair large cavities.
Currently dentists use man-made cements or fillings,
such as calcium and silicon-based products, to treat
these larger cavities and fill holes in teeth.
This cement remains in the tooth and fails to
disintegrate, meaning that the normal mineral level
of the tooth is never completely restored.
In a paper published in Scientific Reports,
scientists from the Dental Institute at King’s
College London have proven a way to stimulate the
stem cells contained in the pulp of the tooth and
generate new dentine – the mineralised material that
protects the tooth - in large cavities, potentially
reducing the need for fillings or cements.
When fillings fail or infection occurs, dentists
have to remove and fill an area that is larger than
what is affected, and after multiple treatments the
tooth may eventually need to be extracted.
Significantly, one of the small molecules 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 presents a real
opportunity to fast-track the treatment into
Using biodegradable collagen sponges to deliver the
treatment, the team applied low doses of small
molecule glycogen synthase kinase (GSK-3) inhibitors
to the tooth. They found that the sponge degraded
over time and that new dentine replaced it, leading
to complete, natural repair.
Collagen sponges are commercially-available and
clinically-approved, again adding to the potential
of the treatment’s swift pick-up and use in dental
Lead author of the study, Professor Paul Sharpe from
King’s College London 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
“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.”
Laser Therapy Prompts Regeneration in Teeth
For more information
nature - Scientific Reports
Promotion of natural tooth repair by small molecule
King's College London