"We have designed synthetic biomaterials that can be used similarly to dental fillings but can be placed in direct contact with pulp tissue to stimulate the native stem cell population for repair and regeneration of pulp tissue and the surrounding dentin," Dr. Adam Celiz, Marie Curie Research Fellow at the University of Nottingam said in the same statement. "Our approach has great promise to impact the dental field and this prize provides a great platform to develop this technology further with industrial partners."
This technique has the potential to significantly impact millions of dental patients each year, as currently 10-15% of traditional fillings fail, leading to millions of root canals to remove the tooth's pulp, or "the soft tissue in the center of the tooth that contains the blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue. A root canal can weaken the tooth, which may eventually need to be pulled."
This new type of filling is made from synthetic biomaterial that can stimulate the growth of stem cells in the pulp of the tooth. So now, instead of existing dental fillings which, according to Celiz are toxic to cells and incompatible with pulp tissue inside the tooth, these synthetic materials can be put in direct contact with pulp tissue, but are still implanted similarly to tradiational fillings.