This Drug Could Heal Cavities in Just 6 Months
For Americans, cavities, also known as dental caries, are a big deal. On average, 91% of adults will develop at least one in their lifetime, with more people averaging multiple cavities. By age 65, nearly 96% of all Americans will suffer from tooth decay, and may have lost their teeth. This is important considering the leaps and bounds we’ve made in medical technology in the last ten years alone. While the proliferation of dental caries is due to our high sugar diets, most of us can do little to change that when sugar is in almost everything we eat.
Fighting tooth decay is something that scientists are not leaving undeveloped, as multiple medical technologies are now in the works to not only stop dental decay, but to actually repair cavities so that the tooth is as healthy as it was before the decay. This is important because the current method includes using calcium and silicone based fillers, which fill the hole but leave the tooth vulnerable to more decay because of the break in the dentine and the enamel.
So, What’s the Drug?
Tidelglusib is a selective and irreversible GSK-3 inhibitor drug, which allows it to be used to treat Alzheimer’s, autism spectrum disorders, and tooth decay. However, Tidelglusib is still in the trial phase for FDA approval and has been since 2009, because it’s testing progress was severely delayed when Noscira, the owning company, was liquidated in 2012. However, Tidelglusib and other similar GSK-3 inhibitors show much more promise for healing tooth decay.
How does that work?
When tissue damage begins, a process known as WNT Signaling (Wnt/β-cat signaling) begins to allow the body to send stimulating chemicals to the area for cellular repair. This process is begun immediately and the tooth will typically form a thin layer of dentin over the hole. However, this new layer is not enough to repair cavities, because it is inhibited by GSK-3 activity. This inhibition is natural and welcome in most cases, because it prevents your teeth from constantly growing. But, in the case of cavities, that’s what we want. By inserting a sponge coated with GSK-3 inhibitor into dental cavities, a team of researchers at Kings College London were able to stimulate reparative dental formation to grow new, naturally generated dentine to fill the cavity.
And, while most people are talking about Tidelglusib because it’s on its way to FDA approval, there are numerous similar GSK-3 inhibitors (glycogen synthase kinase 3) which could do the job equally as well.
The study which was published in Science magazine in January of 2017, shows that the researchers were able to repair 0.13mm holes in mice in as little as 4 months. While these holes are admittedly smaller than most human cavities, this kind of dental repair using only naturally produced dentin is unprecedented.
How Does it Compare to Other Options?
While there are numerous current efforts to repair dental cavities and repair or rebuild tooth enamel and dentin, they hold a distinct disadvantage over GSK-3 inhibitors, none of them are FDA approved. Because GSK-3 is already FDA approved for some uses, it could be put on a fast track to approval and could become available in as little as 5 years. That’s a huge step, considering that the other most promising methods, which involve using peptides like P-11-4, or building a chemical scaffold for dentine to form around, could take 10 or even 20 years to be ready for medical sale.
In the meantime, prevention is still the best medicine. Take care of your teeth, avoid sugary drinks, and make sure you’re getting enough calcium.