Dentists today typically use amalgam or other artificial compounds to fill cavities. However, Dr Anne George of the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry believes dentists should instead fill cavities with the dentine matrix protein 1 (DMP1), which binds calcium and can help regenerate dentine, an important component of teeth.
Dr George has been studying DMP1’s role in bone metabolism since 1992, when she and her team first cloned it.
She said: “We have been trying to identify the function for this protein, which is predominantly present in bone and teeth. Besides being involved in the mineralisation function, we now know it plays an important role in bone metabolism. Therefore, the current proposal seeks to further clarify this role, along with identifying its interacting partners”.
“Nature uses simple proteins like DMP1 with multifunctional capabilities to produce large calcified structures such as our skeleton and teeth. The way nature regulates their function is mind-boggling. Deciphering a little bit of their function by my lab members is gratifying. I am amazed by what we learn in the lab regarding the function of this protein with simple experiments.”