Alzheimer’s Drug Comes To The Rescue Of Dental Caries

Good news for the sweet munchers and people with gargantuan tooth cavities, researchers at King’s College, London, have invented a method to encourage natural tooth repair. The novel approach comprises stimulating stem cells in the tooth pulp with the help of Alzheimer’s drug to generate new dentine – a vital tooth mineral surrounding and protecting the tooth pulp.

When you get a tooth infection or caries, the inner soft pulp of the tooth, containing nerves and blood vessels, gets exposed increasing the chances of the spread of infection. However, your body has a natural defense against it – when the soft tooth pulp is exposed, the natural repair system activates resident mesenchymal to divide into odontoblast cells that secrete dentine sealing the tooth pulp.

Although protective in nature, dentine is almost always insufficient to repair large cavities requiring a dental visit and calcium- or silicon-based mineral aggregates (cement) to fill large holes in the teeth.

While restoration of dentine loss and deep carries is a routine dental procedure, the cement prevent the restoration of a normal mineral volume of the tooth. Musing over this dental peril, scientists at the Dental Institute of King’s College have developed a novel approach that involves stimulation of resident stem cells in the tooth pulp with the help of low-doses glycogen synthase kinase (GSK-3) antagonist – an Alzheimer’s drug.

“Here we describe a novel, biological approach to dentine restoration that stimulates the natural formation of reparative dentine via the mobilization of resident stem cells in the tooth pulp.” Said Dr. Paul T. Sharpe, a regenerative dentistry specialist and a professor at Dental Institute, Kings College London, and the lead author of the study.

“Biodegradable, clinically-approved collagen sponges are used to deliver low doses of small molecule glycogen synthase kinase (GSK-3) antagonists that promote the natural processes of reparative dentine formation to completely restore dentine.”

The scientists capitalized on the fact that during a tooth damage, Axin 2 expression and Wnt/β-cat signaling are upregulated. Meaning your body elicits a chemical signal indicating a tissue damage has occurred and repair work must initiate. An enzyme – GSK-3 – actively catalyzes tooth degradation.

With the addition of Wnt-signaling and GSK-3 antagonists, the researchers, noticed, the dentine was naturally generated.

Several GSK-3 inhibitors are in pipeline for the treatment of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s. In this current study, the scientists studied the efficacy of three small GSK-3 inhibitors in stimulating tertiary dentine. These experimental molecules are: CHIR99021(6-[[2-[[4-(2,4-Dichlorophenyl)-5-(5-methyl-1H-imidazol-2-yl)-2 pyrimidinyl]amino]ethyl]amino]-3-pyridinecarbonitrile), BIO (2′Z,3′E)-6-Bromoindirubin-3′-oxime), and Tideglusib (4-Benzyl-2-(naphthalen-1-yl)-[1,2,4]thiadiazolidine-3,5-dione).

The researchers used Kolspon (collagen sponge) as the delivery vehicle of GSK-3 inhibitors. It is a clinically-approved, commercially-available, material that degrades over time giving way to dentine to regenerate and lead to a complete tooth repair.

The study was performed (in vitro) in mouse dental pulps that were incubated with different concentrations of the drug. The highest concentration of the drug that was safest was taken and the experiment was re-conducted in in vivo.  Holes were drilled in the mice maxillary first molars to incite tooth damage and expose the pulp.

Pieces of Kolspon were cut and soaked into three GSK-3 molecules and later placed into the holes in contact with pulp. Treated teeth were removed after 24 hours for study. Recovery was three-times high in teeth treated with experimental drugs.


The study was published in Scientific Reports on January 9th, 2017.

Does This Revolutionary Study Mean We Can Munch On Sweets Nonstop Without Worrying About Dental Decay?

If scientists succeed in devising a method, which apparently they are pretty close to, to repair tooth damage naturally, we are already talking about a revolution in dental treatments.

Also, since there is tremendous research going on in the world of Alzheimer’s, use of a drug that is already in clinical trials means the revolutionary dental treatment can quickly jump from laboratories into the clinics. If this happens, lives of 60-90% of school children and 100% of adults would be eased because this is how common dental caries are.

Dental caries, or cavities, are the tooth decay that occur as a result of bacterial infection. The resident oral bacteria build up on the teeth in the form of plaque and converts sugar and starches (carbohydrates) in the food into acids destroying the tooth enamel – the hard-outer covering – and the underneath layer of dentine. Once dentine breaks down, cavity is created. If the cavity is not filled in time, the bacteria will continue invading into the innermost layer of the tooth – the pulp – and damage blood vessels and nerve fibers. When tooth roots are exposed, the gum disease develops which manifests in the form of swelling, sensitivity and bleeding.

The news is indeed glad tidings for sweet-munchers who cannot abstain from devouring large portions of molten-lava cake or cane-candies. However, until the revolutionary stem-cell treatment is available, we advise against sugar rush!

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