World’s 1st ‘tooth regrowth medicine’ to be tested in Japan from Sept. 2024

Katsu Takahashi, head of the dentistry and oral surgery department at Kitano Hospital, second from left, and other members of the research team, hold a news conference at the hospital in Osaka’s Kita Ward on May 2, 2024. (Mainichi/Yosuke Tsuyuki)

OSAKA — Clinical trials of the world’s first “tooth regrowth medicine” are set to commence in September at Kyoto University Hospital, researchers announced here on May 2.

Once the medicine’s safety is confirmed, it will be given to patients congenitally lacking a full set of teeth to confirm its effectiveness. The researchers hope to commence sale of the medicine in 2030.

Congenital tooth deficiency is believed to affect about 1% of the population. The absence of six or more teeth, a condition known as oligodontia, is believed to be hereditary, and is said to affect about 0.1% of the population.

A tooth that grew in a mouse with a congenital tooth deficiency, is seen growing after it was given the medicine, in this photo provided by Kitano Hospital.

According to Kitano Hospital in Osaka’s Kita Ward, which is involved in the study, the first phase of the clinical trials will run from September this year to August 2025. The medicine will be administered intravenously to healthy individuals to confirm its effectiveness, with 30 males between the ages of 30 and 64 taking part. The subjects must be missing at least one back tooth so that there will be no problem if the medicine takes effect and a tooth begins to grow. No major side effects have been confirmed in animal studies to date.

In the next stage, the medication will be administered at Kitano Hospital to patients with congenital tooth deficiency. Researchers plan to limit the subjects during this phase to those between the ages of 2 to 7 who have at least four teeth missing from birth.

The tooth regrowth medicine deactivates a protein called USAG-1, which inhibits the growth of teeth. The team believes that in the future it may be possible to grow teeth not only in people with congenital conditions, but also in those who have lost teeth due to cavities or injuries.

This photo provided by Kitano Hospital shows the front teeth of a ferret that was given the medicine. It had six teeth at first, but a seventh one, pictured at center, grew in.

Lead researcher Katsu Takahashi, head of the dentistry and oral surgery department at Kitano Hospital, commented, “We want to do something to help those who are suffering from tooth loss or absence. While there has been no treatment to date providing a permanent cure, we feel that people’s expectations for tooth growth are high.”

(Japanese original by Yosuke Tsuyuki, Osaka Science & Environment News Department)