Alligators and Secrets to Human Tooth Regeneration

Humans typically have two sets of teeth-primary and adult. While it is normal to lose the baby teeth, losing adult teeth is permanent, causing a source of distress and discomfort among countless of people. However, scientists have gained a comprehension of the distinct molecular and cellular mechanisms behind alligators' tooth regeneration. An international team of researchers believes it has unearthed how alligators grow 2,000-3,000 teeth in their lifetimes.


The Research

Dr. Cheng Ming, a professor at USC has been researching on the regenerative traits of alligators' teeth. According to the professor, these reptiles can lose their teeth numerous times and subsequently regenerate them. According to research, most of these reptiles can regenerate their teeth up to 50 times. The secret behind this is that an alligator's body comprises stem cells that start forming a new tooth once they lose one.


Scientists therefore believe that alligators hold the key to helping them replicate regeneration in humans. The first of its kind, the research led to the discovery of stem cells at the bottom of every alligator's tooth. They discovered the stem cells in a tissue layer called lamina. The scientists say this tissue is proof of tooth development in humans and alligators. According to Prof. Cheng, the major difference is that our tissue becomes inactive following the development of adult teeth.



The scientists discovered that alligators are ideal models for tooth replacement in humans due to their well-organized teeth that resemble mammalian teeth in structure and form. According to Dr. Cheng's discovery, alligators have their teeth embedded in the dental bone's sockets similar to humans. The research team discovered that every alligator's tooth is an intricate unit of three elements - the dental lamina, a replacement, and functional tooth in varied developmental phases. It was further discovered that the alligators' teeth structure enables them to transition smoothly from one phase to the next.


Ultimately, the research team wants to recognize stem cells that can function as a resource to encourage tooth renewal in humans who have experienced tooth loss. However, in order to achieve this goal, the researchers must initially comprehend how renewal occurs in other animals but not people. This team further intends to identify the molecular networks that are responsible for repetitive renewal with the hope of applying the ideology to regenerative medicine. However, it is important to note that the research is in its preliminary phase. Therefore, the researchers still have a lot to prove for them to apply the findings to humans. 

Posted by: Admin Admin on 8/10/2014
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