In Science this week a research team based at Rochester University reports discovery, in mice, of a gene called Osr2 whose presence appears to ensure that once a rodent’s teeth are in place, more don’t grow right alongside them. And its absence produces not only abnormalities in skull structure but the ready production of extra teeth. Plausibly, human teeth follow much the same genetic marching orders. The AP‘s Lauren Neergaard gives it a lively lede, asking why it is we get just two sets – baby teeth and one set of adult backups – while sharks can break teeth off all year long and rely on new ones next door to slide into their places. The work, she goes on to say, could spur work to help adults one day grow new teeth when their own wear out. That puts on optimistic spin on what looks intuitively like a payoff that will be very difficult to achieve. But she backs it up with an outside source who says he intends to use it quickly to spur his own research in exactly that direction.
The story is commendable for getting deep enough into a few arcane details of the research and to give readers a solid sense of the complex, basic science involved. The story has some other pickup, but not much from major outlets. But it follows close on another announcement from researchers at Oregon State University that they had found the gene that triggers formation of tooth enamel.
Grist for the Mill: U. Rochester Press Release ;
Other tooth gene news:
- Telegraph (UK) Richard Alleyne : Gene found that makes tooth enamel could revolutionise dental care ;
- HealthDay News: Scientists Find Gene for Tooth Enamel ;
Grist for the Mill: Oregon State U. Press Release (via ScienceDaily); (Corrected – earlier version mis-attributed this about 40 miles south, to Univ. of Oregon. See comment.)