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Breakthrough in tooth-tissue engineering announced

Electronmicroscopic image of Proline amino acids. (DTI/Photo courtesy of Florida State University, USA)
Claudia Salwiczek, DTI

Claudia Salwiczek, DTI

Thu. 14 January 2010


NEW YORK, USA/LEIPZIG, Germany: Researchers at the University of Illinois in the US could have discovered the key to re-growing tooth enamel. In a comparative study on animals, they found that repeated simple amino acids, or Prolines, are responsible for making teeth stronger and more resistant. Their findings could help in replacing lost parts of teeth in patients suffering from dental decay.

Proline is a major component of the protein collagen, the connective tissue structure that binds and supports all other tissues. It can be also found in protein bubbles that help to form enamel.

In the study, the researchers compared the number of Proline repeats in amphibian and mammal models, such as mice, cows and frogs, and discovered that when the repeats are short, teeth lack the enamel prisms that are responsible for the strength of human enamel. In contrast, when the Proline repeats are long, they contract groups of molecules that help enamel crystals grow.

According to the researchers, the findings could aid other important areas of scientific research in addition to dentistry, including the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s Disease or Creutzfeldt–Jakob Disease.


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