Amino Acid Discovered to Affect Tooth Enamel Strength


Tom Diekwisch

An accomplished researcher in the field of oral biology, Dr. Thomas Diekwisch of the University of Illinois at Chicago has extensively studied the makeup of human tooth enamel. In 2009, Dr. Thomas Diekwisch and his colleagues discovered a key amino acid that contributes to enamel resilience.

A study published in the journal PLOS Biology announced the identification of a proline repeat pattern that may account for the strength of human tooth enamel. The 2009 announcement came following in-depth analysis of the amino acids in the center of protein chains in tooth enamel. Researchers found that a particular amino acid repeats within these proteins and affects enamel strength based on the length of the repeat.

Researchers discovered that short proline repeats, such as those occurring in amphibian subjects, do not enable the organism to develop strong enamel crystals. Animals that do present with these crystals, which appear to provide the enamel with its characteristic strength, also have longer amino acid repeats. Researchers report that this finding may play a key role in the development of engineering strong and effective replacement tooth enamel for human patients, as well as possibly in the treatment of various neurodegenerative conditions.


About diekwisch

Dr. Diekwisch currently serves as the director of the Brodie Laboratory for Craniofacial Genetics at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry, where he focuses his research on areas such as the evolution of dental structures and the role of chromatin factors in development.
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