Popular Science News | Growing a New Tooth

Popular Science News – Growing a New Tooth

The idea that the tooth growing gene can be turned off and on is leading to the possibility that rather than having an implant, in the future we might be able to temporarily turn back on the gene which was turned off after our permanent teeth developed. Scientists have isolated a single gene called osr2 that prevents the growth of teeth in species like humans and mice. When this gene was eliminated in mice they developed extra teeth. The problem is that eliminating the gene completely led to side-effects, some of which were fatal.

The idea now is not to get rid of the gene but instead to learn how to turn it on and off. So, you visit the dentist in the future and have a tooth extracted. The dentist turns off the osr2 gene in the cells in the cavity and you’re told to return in four week when a new tooth will have grown there. The dentist then turns the gene back on so that no more teeth will develop and push the new one out and, of course, to stop the side-effects. That’ll be £10,000 please!

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