An international team of researchers have come up with a novel technique that may offer a treatment option for dental caries or tooth decay.
Dental caries, or tooth decay, continues to be the most prevalent infectious disease in the world, which leads to the loss of the hard tissues of the tooth, followed by inflammation and necrosis (cell death in living tissues) of the subjacent dental pulp.
The researchers revealed that tissue-engineering strategies directed at mimicking the natural extracellular matrix (any material part of a tissue that is not part of any cell) have utilized synthetic and non-synthetic scaffolds to direct cell differentiation and matrix mineralization (in the case of bone).
The most promising among the new generation of delivery systems are synthetic peptide hydrogels, which provide a nano-structured matrix highly similar to natural matrix.
Short peptides can be designed to self-assemble into nanofibers, form macroscopic gels, and entrap living cells. With single amino acids as building blocks, the resulting materials are non-toxic, non-inflammatory, and biodegradable
The modular concept allows for high control over the system and, at the same time, makes it extremely versatile.
The study led by Baylor College of Dentistry (Dallas), the University of Regensburg (Germany), and Rice University (Houston) has shown that hydrogels made of peptide amphiphiles, where a short peptide sequence is attached to a fatty acid, which provides the driving force for self-assembly.
However, they recently applied a different design concept, where the self-assembly of peptide chains is achieved without attaching a hydrophobic tail. Based on their design, the chains can include bioactive peptide sequences for cell adhesion, binding of growth factors, or other biological molecules with therapeutic potential.
Hence, multidomain peptide hydrogels represent a novel and highly versatile material offering a higher degree of control over nanofiber architecture and better chemical functionality.
The aim is to utilize these multidomain peptides as a biomimetic scaffold, along with dental stem cell therapy, to provide a natural 3D environment that can control and direct the differentiation and function of dental stem cells for the targeted regeneration of the dentin-pulp complex.
The study was presented at 86th General Session of the International Association for Dental Research.