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Diamonds Could Help Regrow Teeth

First Posted: Sep 20, 2013 10:01 AM EDT

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, have discovered that nanodiamonds could be used to trigger teeth growth. Nano diamonds are the byproducts of mining and refining operations.

This study was a collaboration between the UCLA School of Dentistry, the UCLA Department of Bioengineering, the NanoCarbon Research Institute in Japan and Northwestern University.

Dr. Dean Ho, professor of oral biology and medicine and co-director of the Jane and Jerry Weintraub Center for Reconstructive Biotechnology at the UCLA School of Dentistry was the lead author of the study.

The researchers used tiny soccer-shaped nanodiamonds to find a cure for  osteonecrosis, a painful bone disease, which causes breakdown of bones because of reduced blood flow. This disease hinders movement and when it affects the jaw, speaking and eating becomes difficult and it disrupts dental implants.

Bone repair operations are usually very expensive and time consuming. Surgeons place a sponge with proteins inside the tooth to help promote bone growth. The researchers found  that using nanodiamonds instead of sponges worked better.

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"Nanodiamonds are versatile platforms, because they are useful for delivering such a broad range of therapies, nanodiamonds have the potential to impact several other facets of oral, maxillofacial and orthopedic surgery, as well as regenerative medicine," Dr. Ho said in a press release.

The nanodiamonds were found to bind quickly to both fibroblast growth factor and bone morphogenetic protein, indicating that the proteins can be simultaneously delivered using one vehicle. The unique surface of these diamonds caused slower delivery of proteins in the affected area.  

"We've conducted several comprehensive studies, in both cells and animal models, looking at the safety of the nanodiamond particles," said Laura Moore, the first author of the study and a Ph.D. student at Northwestern University under the mentorship of Dr. Ho.

"Initial studies indicate that they are well tolerated, which further increases their potential in dental and bone repair applications," Moore added.

In addition, the nanodiamonds can be administered by the non-invasive diagnostic method, such as by an oral rinse or an injection.

Nanodiamonds were found to be effective at treating multiple forms of cancer in preclinical models shown by Dr. Ho's research team previously.

Osteonecrosis is a side effect of chemotherapy, hence, the group decided to observe whether nanodiamonds can aid in treating bone loss. This study may open doors for further usage of these nanodiamonds in regenerative medicine, drug delivery and other fields.

"This discovery serves as a foundation for the future of nanotechnology in dentistry, orthopedics and other domains in medicine," said Dr. No-Hee Park, dean of the School of Dentistry.

"Dr. Ho and his team have demonstrated the enormous potential of the nanodiamonds toward improving patient care. He is a pioneer in his field," Dr. Park concluded.

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