Fillings That Heal Teeth – How Regenerative Medicine Could Change Dentistry

Posted on July 7, 2016

Researchers from the University of Nottingham and the Wyss Institute at Harvard University have developed therapeutic synthetic, light-curable, biomaterials for dental treatments that support native dental stem cells inside teeth to repair and regenerate dentin. 

The approach could significantly impact millions of dental patients each year by dental fillings that help heal teeth when they are injured from dental disease or dental surgery.

The research won second prize in the materials category of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Emerging Technologies Competition 2016.

“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 Adam Celiz, Marie Curie Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham. 

“We have designed synthetic biomaterials that can be used similarly to dental fillings but can be placed in direct contact with pulp tissue to stimulate the native stem cell population for repair and regeneration of pulp tissue and the 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.”

David Mooney, the Pinkas Family Professor of Bioengineering at the John Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, added, “These materials may provide an effective and practical approach to allow a patient to regenerate components of their own teeth.”

Kyle Vining, DDS, Fellow at the Wyss Institute at Harvard University said, “We are excited about the promise of therapeutic biomaterials for bringing regenerative medicine to restorative dentistry.”

Applications were judged on the degree of innovation of the technology, its potential impact, and the quality of the science behind it. The group will receive tailored business support from multinational partner companies, business training, media support, and a cash prize of £3,000.

Steve Pleasance, Head of Industry at the Royal Society of Chemistry, said, “Increasing innovation in the chemical sciences is one of the key elements of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s industry strategy. Our Emerging Technologies competition, now in its fourth year and supported by our industry partners, is proving to be highly successful in accelerating the commercialisation of the cutting-edge research taking place in both universities and small companies.”

Winning the competition gives businesses the platform they need to make the industry aware of their technology.

Since the initiative began in 2013, winners have gone on to raise a combined total of over £16 million in further funding, grown their companies and entered commercial contracts. 

A previous winner went on to secure US $1.7 million of funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop their novel treatment for iron deficiency anaemia, whilst another received support from GSK and was awarded over £2.5 million to take their enzyme catalysis technology towards market.

Forty shortlisted entrants presented their ideas to a panel of expert judges at the competition final, held at the Chemistry Means Business event. The judges are industry leaders and experts in their fields, drawn from a wide range of specialisms.

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