Alzheimer’s research yields dental breakthrough – self healing teeth?

A drug designed to treat Alzheimer’s disease turns out to stimulate teeth to heal themselves, according to a new study published by the Dental Institute at Kings College, London.

Scientists previously found that activating stem cells in a tooth’s pulp will stimulate self-repair for small cracks and holes on the tooth surface. But the new treatment can bring about self-healing in larger holes, even all the way to the tooth’s root.

The tooth still has to be drilled, unfortunately, to remove the cavity. But if the process works, filling can be avoided, along with the risk of future decay around the filling. The teeth can generate new dentine – the mineralised material that protects the tooth from cavities.

The drug, Tideglusib, has already undergone clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease. But its application for tooth repair has so far only been tested on mice.

Researchers placed biodegradable collagen sponges into the mice’s teeth cavities, applying low doses of small molecule glycogen synthase kinase (GSK-3) inhibitors to the tooth; one of the molecules was Tideglusib. The application stimuated the renewal of stem cells and enabled the tooth cells to regenerate. The next tests will be on rats, whose teeth are four times the size. Human tests are expected some time in 2017.

Check out the Guide To Long Term Care for more information on Alzheimer’s disease.

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Eli Lilly’s latest Alzheimer’s drug fails clinical trials

Eli Lilly’s drug solanezumab, designed to treat dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease, failed to show significant benefits in a large multi-national trial. The trial, which began in 2013, involved over 2,100 Alzheimer’s patients with mild dementia.

The pharmaceutical company announced that in the Phase 3 clinical trial of solanezumab, patients taking the drug did not show a significant slowdown in cognitive decline compared to those who took a placebo.

Solanezumab was designed to reduce the buildup of amyloid plaques in the brain. Some researchers have postulated that amyloid plaques may cause or contribute to the memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The failure of this trial brings that theory into question.

Some scientists say there is still no convincing evidence of a clear relationship between amyloid plaques and dementia. Amyloid deposits begin to form up to twenty years before the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, but may not cause it. Some people who have the plaques do not show cognitive decline.

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While disappointing, the failure of this trial will not end efforts to find a cure. The results of this test will stimulate the scientific community to look in other directions. Even failed trials can provide helpful information and point to new avenues for research.

The next drug to be tested will be aducanumab by Biogen, which also attacks plaques but in a different way.

Alzheimer’s disease is involved in 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases. Almost 47 million people worldwide have Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, and many require special care whether at home or in an institution.

Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of Long Term Care Insurance claims.


 

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