APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:
- Preventive dentistry, e.g., toothpaste additive
- Regenerative, implant and cosmetic dentistry
- Periodontics and oral surgery
- Industrial processes requiring crystallization or amorphous precipitation
- Minimally invasive route to restoring tooth structure
- Reduces dental health costs
- Biomimetic process
- Alternative to fluoride-based remineralization
A team of researchers from Berkeley Lab and UCSF School of Dentistry has discovered that remineralization of damaged tooth materials such as dentin or enamel can be significantly enhanced with the use of certain biomimetic polymers. Specifically, the team found that small peptide-like poly-N-substituted glycines, or peptoids, can act synergistically with polyaspartic acid to significantly promote apatite formation.
The researchers identified certain peptoids, including amphiphilic peptoids, which in very low concentrations catalyze apatite formation in this synergistic fashion. Beyond mere remineralization, this process restores the structure and function of dentin. These peptoids also have the potential to act alone to rebuild other hydrated carious tissues such as enamel.
Research has shown that natural proteins can induce precipitation of inorganic materials from dissolved precursors. Biopolymers have been developed that can mimic or even improve upon these natural processes. The hope is that they could be further developed to repair tooth structures made of enamel or dentin. One approach, the polymer-induced liquid precursor (PILP) process, can remineralize dentin by carrying dissolved mineral components deep into collagen fibers with the aid of polyaspartic acid. These dissolved materials precipitate into apatite, a key mineral component of dentin.
Remineralization strategies are not new to dental health. Most revolve around the use of fluoride-containing toothpastes and fluoridation of drinking water, because those chemicals work with calcium and phosphate ions in saliva to accelerate natural remineralization of enamel structures. The use of adjunctive agents in processes such as PILP or peptoids improve these strategies and extend them to dentin, the major tissue just inside a tooth from the enamel, or to bone, which has very similar components, properties and functions to dentin. By employing peptoid catalysts, the Berkeley Lab/UCSF technology offers an alternative pathway for enhanced, functional remineralization of calcified tissues.
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Proven principle
STATUS: Patent pending. Available for licensing or collaborative research.
SEE THESE OTHER BERKELEY LAB TECHNOLOGIES IN THIS FIELD:
REFERENCE NUMBER: 2013-056