This is an example of a comparatively straightforward approach to regenerative medicine, in which researchers mix existing drugs and promising signal molecules with a scaffold gel, aiming to spur regrowth that would not normally occur. In this case, this sort of approach has the potential to regenerate the pulp tissue damaged in infected teeth:
A researcher is developing an advanced nanogel formula that roots out endodontic infections and encourages the recovering tooth to rejuvenate itself. The most common treatment for endodontic infection is the dreaded root canal, which requires several clinic visits to complete. This new therapy would be a one-shot solution. The treatment consists of two antibiotics, ciprofloxacin and metronidazole, along with a dose of nitric oxide. These are encapsulated in an injectable, self-assembled "biomimetic" nanomatrix gel.
Nanogels are a hot area of research because they can be injected directly into a desired target and formulated to release medications over a specific timeframe. In this case, that allows the UAB team to defeat common endodontic infections with low concentrations of those two antibiotics and avoid a third antibiotic used in current therapies. That third antibiotic, minocycline, often stains teeth and causes other side effects. The gel also mimics the natural extracellular matrix (hence the term "biomimetic"), which encourages the formation of new blood vessels in formerly infected pulp tissue. "The reason a tooth dies is due to lack of blood vessels. By removing the infection and recruiting new blood vessels to the tooth, we believe we can rejuvenate it."