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.