In laboratory tests, MCG researchers applied a protein onto implants that directs endogenous stem cells to become bone-forming cells. The result was a nearly complete regeneration of lost tissue, says Dr. Ulf Wikesjö, a professor of periodontics in MCG's School of Dentistry.
Loss of teeth and bone is a common and devastating result of gum disease.
Dr. Wikesjö, who came to MCG this year from Temple University in Philadelphia, is researching wound-healing and tissue regeneration with a $1.4 million grant from Nobel Biocare, a leading manufacturer of dental implants and equipment.
Finding the key to improved regeneration is like piecing together a puzzle, Dr. Wikesjö says.
"For the past 20 years, there has been a quest to regenerate tissues around teeth that are lost due to periodontal disease," he says. "I've looked at multiple approaches to achieve regeneration, including bone grafts, root conditioning and membrane devices for directed tissue growth, all resulting in some regeneration. Where we had to look was at the commonalities among these treatments."
Dr. Wikesjö and his colleagues found that any regeneration requires two characteristics: a stable wound and space for the regenerated tissue to grow during the initial stages of healing.
"If these components are in place, regeneration of the tissues around the tooth may occur within a week or two," he says. "After that, it's a matter of the wound maturing ?going through the various stages of healing that we're already familiar with."
By experimenting with treatments and discerning their effect on healing bone defects, they found some ?including some in use today ?that actually hinder tissue regeneration.
"Some biomaterials like hydroxyapatite particles, which are chemically similar
Source:Medical College of Georgia