New drug to regenerate lost teeth

Antibody for USAG-1 shown to stimulate tooth growth

The tooth fairy is a welcome guest for any child who has lost a tooth. Not only will the fairy leave a small gift under the pillow, but the child can be assured of a new tooth in a few months. The same cannot be said of adults who have lost their teeth.

A new study by scientists at Kyoto University and the University of Fukui, however, may offer some hope. The team reports that an antibody for one gene — uterine sensitization associated gene-1 or USAG-1 — can stimulate tooth growth in mice suffering from tooth agenesis, a congenital condition. The paper was published in Science Advances.

Although the normal adult mouth has 32 teeth, about 1% of the population has more or fewer due to congenital conditions. Scientists have explored the genetic causes for cases having too many teeth as clues for regenerating teeth in adults.

According to Katsu Takahashi, one of the lead authors of the study and a senior lecturer at the Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine, the fundamental molecules responsible for tooth development have already been identified.

“The morphogenesis of individual teeth depends on the interactions of several molecules including BMP, or bone morphogenetic protein, and Wnt signaling,” says Takahashi.

BMP and Wnt are involved in much more than tooth development. They modulate the growth of multiple organs and tissues well before the human body is even the size of a raisin. Consequently, drugs that directly affect their activity are commonly avoided, since side effects could affect the entire body.

Guessing that targeting the factors that antagonize BMP and Wnt specifically in tooth development could be safer, the team considered the gene USAG-1.

“We knew that suppressing USAG-1 benefits tooth growth. What we did not know was whether it would be enough,” adds Takahashi.

The scientists therefore investigated the effects of several monoclonal antibodies for USAG-1. Monoclonal antibodies are commonly used to treat cancers, arthritis, and vaccine development.

USAG-1 interacts with both BMP and Wnt. As a result, several of the antibodies led to poor birth and survival rates of the mice, affirming the importance of both BMP and Wnt on whole body growth. One promising antibody, however, disrupted the interaction of USAG-1 with BMP only.

Experiments with this antibody revealed that BMP signaling is essential for determining the number of teeth in mice. Moreover, a single administration was enough to generate a whole tooth. Subsequent experiments showed the same benefits in ferrets.

“Ferrets are diphyodont animals with similar dental patterns to humans. Our next plan is to test the antibodies on other animals such as pigs and dogs,” explains Takahashi.

The study is the first to show the benefits of monoclonal antibodies on tooth regeneration and provides a new therapeutic framework for a clinical problem that can currently only be resolved with implants and other artificial measures.

“Conventional tissue engineering is not suitable for tooth regeneration. Our study shows that cell-free molecular therapy is effective for a wide range of congenital tooth agenesis,” concludes Manabu Sugai of the University of Fukui, another author of the study.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Kyoto University. J

Journal Reference:

  1. A. Murashima-Suginami, H. Kiso, Y. Tokita, E. Mihara, Y. Nambu, R. Uozumi, Y. Tabata, K. Bessho, J. Takagi, M. Sugai, K. Takahashi. Anti–USAG-1 therapy for tooth regeneration through enhanced BMP signalingScience Advances, 2021; 7 (7): eabf1798 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abf1798

Dentists, dental students among providers now authorized to administer COVID-19 vaccine nationwide

March 12, 2021

Washington — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is amending an emergency declaration under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act to authorize additional providers, including dentists and dental students, to vaccinate patients for COVID-19 nationwide, according to a March 11 announcement in the Federal Register.

To date, at least 28 states already enlist dentists to administer the COVID-19 vaccines during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The federal declaration allows licensed dentists throughout the country to vaccinate the public against COVID-19, regardless of state laws that prevent dentists from doing so.

The Association sent a Feb. 11 letter to HHS on this issue and the ADA was also part of a September 2020 coalition letter asking for the same liability protection.

“Dentists already have the requisite knowledge and skills to administer vaccines and observe side effects — and many do so on a daily basis,” wrote ADA President Daniel J. Klemmedson, D.D.S., M.D., and ADA Executive Director Kathleen T O’Loughlin, D.M.D., in the February letter. “Dentists are well educated in human anatomy, physiology, and pathophysiology, and are trained to administer intra-oral local anesthesia. It is arguably more difficult to administer an inferior alveolar nerve block inside the oral cavity than to vaccinate an exposed arm and manage any side effects.”

The White House said March 11 the administration will be expanding the pool of qualified professionals able to administer shots to include dentists and other providers. And during his presidential address that night, President Joe Biden announced a goal to make “every adult in the U.S. eligible for vaccination no later than May 1.” He also vowed to increase the number of places Americans can get vaccinated, including increasing the total number of participating community health centers to 950, and plans to double the number of federally-run mass vaccination centers.

The Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act, or PREP Act, allows the Health and Human Services Secretary to issue a declaration in a public health emergency. This declaration provides temporary immunity from tort liability claims (except willful misconduct) to individuals or organizations involved in the manufacture, distribution or dispensing of medical countermeasures, which may include vaccines. This declaration may be amended as circumstances warrant. During the COVID-19 public health emergency, a declaration was first issued in January 2020 by former HHS Secretary Alex Azar.

On March 11, Acting HHS Secretary Norris Cochran amended the declaration to designate additional health care professionals, including dentists and students, as “qualified persons” whom are authorized to administer COVID-19 vaccines. Other qualified providers include midwives, paramedics, EMTs, physician assistants, respiratory therapists, podiatrists, optometrists and veterinarians. The amended declaration also includes retired or nonpracticing health care providers who have had active licenses or certifications within the last five years as long as they were in good standing prior to the license becoming inactive, expired or lapsed.

For information about COVID-19 vaccinations, the ADA has created a fact sheet for dentists and dental team members about the status and safety of COVID-19 vaccines. The ADA continues to monitor developments related to COVID-19 vaccine authorization and administration on behalf of the profession and public. Visit for the latest information.

For more information about the ADA’s advocacy efforts during COVID-19, visit

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