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Japanese scientists are set to kick off the world's first clinical trials of "tooth regrowth medicine" at the Kyoto University Hospital, The Mainichi reports.

Researchers from the Japanese startup Toregem Biopharma are planning to enroll patients who were born missing some or all of their teeth from birth, a condition called congenital anodontia, for the trials.

The patients will receive an antibody treatment that deactivates a protein called USAG-1, believed to stop "tooth buds," which most people have, from developing into either baby or permanent teeth.

People with the condition conventionally resort to getting implants or dentures. However, Toregem's treatment could provide them with a "third option," as co-founder Katsu Takahashi explained in a statement, as quoted by Nikkei Asia.

The team is hoping to treat not only those who haven't been able to grow teeth from birth, but eventually also those who are simply missing teeth due to cavities as well.

A Phase 1 of the trial in September, which is designed to ensure that the treatment is safe, will involve 30 healthy male adult participants who are missing at least one back tooth. Phase 2 is tentatively scheduled for next year and will involve patients aged two to seven with congenital anodontia who are missing at least four teeth from birth.

The team has already successfully tested the treatment in animals with no observed side effects. In 2018, the team tested the drug on ferrets, which have similar tooth buds to humans, and found that new teeth grew successfully.

"The idea of growing new teeth is every dentist's dream," Takahashi told Japanese newspaper The Mainichi last year. "I've been working on this since I was a graduate student."

More on regrowing teeth: Japanese Company Testing Drug to Regrow Teeth in Humans

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