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Building a Tooth

Evolutionary Biology:  Cichlids, Gene Networks, and Teeth
(February 2009)
A cichlidIn the journal PLOS Biology, NIDCR grantees report they have deduced a network of dental genes in fishes called cichlids that likely were involved in building the first tooth half a billion years ago.  The researchers say their finding introduces into the scientific literature a core evolutionary list of molecular pieces needed to make a tooth.  These original parts were then gradually rewired, replaced, or left in place to produce the various shapes and sizes of teeth now found in nature, from shark to mouse to monkey to human.  The Inside Scoop spoke with Todd Streelman, Ph.D., a scientist at Georgia Tech University in Atlanta and a senior author on the study, to learn more about his group’s discovery.  more...

Tooth Development
(October 2008)
Richard Maas, MD, PhDMalcolm Snead, DDS, PhDIs it possible to build a tooth? That’s a question that many giants of 20th century dental research no doubt considered, and it’s a conceptual puzzle that continues to capture the imaginations of the nation’s oral health scientists. But there is a key difference between the musings of then and now. Today’s scientists possess for the first time the needed laboratory tools to plumb the molecular depths and developmental biology of tooth formation, and some already have begun to do so in earnest. more...


Dental Enamel: From Matrix to Microribbons
(May 2005)
Janet Moradian-Oldak, MSc, PhDMany dental researchers dream of one day stepping into the laboratory, putting out a detailed set of instructions, and engineering a replacement tooth.  This decades-old dream has gained momentum recently as scientists have identified more of the molecules that nature employs to make a tooth.  Yet, even as these molecular parts are identified, scientists must begin to solve the larger puzzles of how they self assemble to form the tooth's various specialized tissues, such as enamel and tooth.    more...



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This page last updated: February 26, 2014