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Tooth Regeneration and Repair: Dentistry in the 21st century

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Stem cells can be identified in the stroma (connective tissue) of most tissues and organs. These cells provide a source of cells that become activated upon tissue damage to generate differentiated cell types that promote tissue repair. Specific targeting of these resident stem cells has become a major goal for regenerative therapies.

Using the mammalian tooth as an easily accessible model organ, we have developed a novel drug treatment (ReDent) that activates resident stem cells in the tooth pulp to differentiate into the specialised cell type (odontoblasts) that produce reparative dentine. ReDent thus promotes self-repair of teeth following caries removal. ReDent is anticipated to be in clinical trials in the next 12 months. These same principles are also being applied to the development of stem cell-based treatments for periodontal disease.

Teeth are currently replaced using dental implants or prostheses (false teeth). The ultimate goal of regenerative dentistry is to use bioengineering approaches to develop a method that allows a complete new functional tooth to grow in the mouth. The basic proof-of-principle showing this is possible was established several years ago. Our latest progress in this area will be presented and the remaining obstacles discussed.

This talk is part of the Cambridge Society for the Application of Research (CSAR) series.

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