Imagine fillings that do more than plug a hole. Instead, they also could help teeth heal themselves. Such regenerative treatments may soon be possible with research from the University of Nottingham and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University.
The collaboration has developed therapeutic synthetic, light-curable biomaterials for dental treatments that support native dental stem cells inside teeth to repair and regenerate dentin. The work also took second prize in the materials category of the 2016 Royal Society of Chemistry Emerging Technologies Competition.
“Existing dental fillings are toxic to cells and are therefore incompatible with pulp tissue inside the tooth. In cases of dental pulp disease and injury, a root canal is typically performed to remove the infected tissues,” said Dr. Adam Celiz, Marie Curie Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham.
The synthetic biomaterials that the researchers designed can be similarly used in dental fillings. However, they also can be placed in direct contact with pulp tissue to stimulate the native cell population for repair and regeneration of the pulp tissue and surrounding dentin.
“Our approach has great promise to impact the dental field, and this prize provides a great platform to develop this technology further with industrial partners,” Celiz said.
“These materials may provide an effective and practical approach to allow patients to regenerate components of their own teeth,” said David Mooney, the Pinkas Family Professor of Bioengineering at the John Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard and the Wyss Institute.
“We are excited about the promise of therapeutic biomaterials for bringing regenerative medicine to restorative dentistry,” said Dr. Kyle Vining, Fellow at the Wyss Institute.
Applications for the competition were judged on their degree of innovation, their potential impact, and the quality of their science. The researchers will receive tailored business support from multinational partner companies, business training, media support, and a cash prize of £3,000, or about $2,300 USD.
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