UCLA Dental Professor Identifies Enzymes that Encourage Bone Growth in Stem Cells

san francisco neuromuscular dentistSAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – Today we are safely guarded from many diseases that destroyed our ancestors. Scientists have made major advances in medicine, and as a result life expectancy has increased significantly. We haven’t yet found a way to promote bone growth as we age, but a University of California, Los Angeles dentistry professor and his research team may have discovered a glimmer of hope.

Dr. Cun-Yu Wang and his team have identified two enzymes that determine the fate of stem cells from bone marrow. The two enzymes – KDM4B and KDM6B – can guide cells to become bone cells by eliminating methyl markers from gene-regulating proteins.

The research was published in the July 6 issue of Cell Stem Cell. The findings could revolutionize dental services like dental implants and provide key relief for bone disease sufferers.

San Francisco dentist, Dr. Greg Larson, who also provides invisalign in San Francisco, is interested to see this research progress, he says. Promoting bone cell growth could be helpful in treating a number of diseases. Patients with gum disease suffer tooth decay and bone loss, and with this new research, the future could be bright for bone and tooth regeneration. Metabolic bone diseases such osteoporosis, Paget’s disease and osteitis fibrosa cystica could possibly be controlled by medicines that encourage new bone growth.

“The discovery that Dr. Wang and his team have made has considerable implications for craniofacial bone regeneration and treatment for osteoporosis,” says UCLA School of Dentistry dean Dr. No-Hee Park. “As a large portion of our population reaches an age where osteoporosis and gum disease could be major health problems, advancements in aging-related treatment are very valuable.”

Bone marrow stem cells have the potential to grow into bone cells or fat cells, and these two regulating enzymes can help scientists sculpt the cells to the desired outcome. This could be an important discovery in developing medicine that induces bone growth, though the research is far from complete.

“While we know certain genes must be turned on in order for the cells to become bone-forming cells, as opposed to fat cells, we have only a few clues as to how those genes are switched on,” Dr. Wang says.

Dr. Wang wears a lot of hats at UCLA’s School of Dentistry; he’s the associate dean for graduate studies as well as the chair of the oral biology and medicine division. His research was aided by grants from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.

With this new research, it may not be a stretch in the future for San Francisco sedation dentist Dr. Larson to grow new teeth inside his patients’ mouths.

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