Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Chewing it Over
13 July 2016

Chewing it Over

We sometimes worry about wearing away our teeth, but don’t think much of what lies beneath them. Pictured is cartilage of a rat’s temporomandibular joint (TMJ – part of the jaw – seen down a microscope. Although this cartilage is healthy, excess stress can cause it to wear away, along with the underlying bone. This is currently very difficult to treat, but scientists have recently tested a potential cure. They injected rats whose jaws were under different levels of teeth-grinding type strain with a drug called Salubrinal. This compound inhibits endoplasmic reticulum stress, a cellular process which can lead to additional cartilage damage once the jaw is under strain. Salubrinal caused the damaged cartilage to recover its thickness, and reduced symptoms in bone, such as pathological changes and a high immune system response. It could be an interesting potential treatment in the future, including for painful degenerative bone disease like arthritis.

Written by Esther Redhouse White

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