When a Lake Malawi cichlid loses a tooth, a new one drops neatly into place as a replacement. Why can't humans similarly regrow teeth lost to injury or disease?
Working with hundreds of these colorful fish, researchers are beginning to understanding how the animals maintain their hundreds of teeth throughout their adult lives. By studying how structures in embryonic fish differentiate into either teeth or taste buds, the researchers hope to one day be able to turn on the tooth regeneration mechanism in humans - which, like other mammals, get only two sets of teeth to last a lifetime.
Ref: Coevolutionary patterning of teeth and taste buds. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (October 2015) | DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1514298112