February 03, 2005
Gene Therapy Shows Promise For Anchoring Dental Implants

While only done in rats so far the therapy may make dental repairs and replacements easier to do.

ANN ARBOR, Mich.---A University of Michigan research team has found that introducing a growth factor protein into a mouth wound using gene therapy helped generate bone around dental implants, according to a new paper in the February issue of the journal Molecular Therapy.

In a patient with a sizeable mouth wound, replacing a tooth takes more than simply implanting a new one---the patient also needs the bone structure to anchor the new tooth in place. Such reconstructive surgery today involves either taking a bone graft from the patient's chin or jaw, which leaves a second wound needing to heal, or using donated bone from a tissue bank, which yields unpredictable results.

William Giannobile, professor of periodontics, prevention and geriatrics, led a team at the U-M School of Dentistry that delivered the gene encoding for bone morphogenetic protein-7 (BMP-7) to large bone defects in rats in an attempt to turn on the body's own bone growth mechanisms. The study showed that animals that got the BMP-7 treatment produced nearly 50 percent more supporting bone around dental implants than those receiving the conventional treatment.

"This study represents a proof-of-concept investigation. We are encouraged about the promise of this treatment," said Giannobile, also an associate professor of biomedical engineering and director of the Michigan Center for Oral Health Research.

More work will need to be done before the approach can be tested in humans, Giannobile added. He said he optimistically would like to see initial trials begin in humans in four to seven years.

One can imagine gene therapy of this sort being used in conjunction with cell therapies being developed to grow new teeth.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2005 February 03 03:49 AM  Biotech Teeth And Gums


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