New Teeth: Why Can’t We Be More Like Sharks?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Shark Teeth: lower jaw with 4 tooth rows and 4 tooth series labeled. "Series 1" contains the functional teeth at the front of the jaw. Wikipedia Image

Shark Teeth: lower jaw with 4 tooth rows and 4 tooth series labeled. “Series 1” contains the functional teeth at the front of the jaw. Wikipedia Image

Gareth J. Fraser, Ph.D
Lecturer in Zoology
Department of Animal and Plant Sciences
Alfred Denny Building
University of Sheffield
Western Bank Sheffield UK

MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

 

 

Dr. Fraser: Our study shows how sharks develop their formidable, continuously regenerative conveyor belt-like dentition. We show how sharks make and regenerate their teeth utilising a core set of highly conserved genes shared among all vertebrates, including humans. This network of genes has been making teeth in vertebrates for over 400 million years. This report suggests that all teeth are made with this same group of genes. Sharks have an incredible ability to rapidly regenerate their dentition throughout life, and these genes are essential for this process of regeneration.

If we compare this process to mammals where the regenerative system is greatly reduced with only two sets of teeth, then we can begin to understand why humans have lost the ability to regenerate their dentition more than once. The beauty of studying natural systems like the shark dentition is that we can learn the basic science behind how teeth are naturally regenerated. This is important to human dental health as we can use these natural systems of tooth regeneration to learn about the essential cells and genes that regulate the process of natural tooth regeneration.

In the future, this research could facilitate the development of new dental therapies helping humans to regrow natural teeth when required.

Citation:

Liam J. Rasch, Kyle J. Martin, Rory L. Cooper, Brian D. Metscher, Charlie J. Underwood, Gareth J. Fraser. An ancient dental gene set governs development and continuous regeneration of teeth in sharks.
Developmental Biology, 2016; DOI:10.1016/j.ydbio.2016.01.038

Dr. Gareth Fraser (2016). New Teeth: Why Can’t We Be More Like Sharks? 

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