It sounds like science fiction: growing teeth from stem cells pulled from urine! But it’s just what the published study from a group of scientist’s states. It reports the generation of tooth-like structures may help researchers of the future grow teeth custom-designed for dental patients. Previous studies have actually demonstrated some real world results. Stem cells generated from urine can actually transform into pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). These iPSCs can generate into many different cell types, like heart muscle cells and neurons. Before now, regeneration of these cells into organs was thought to be impossible.
Chinese researchers, from Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health, were able to grow hard teeth-like structures according to the journal Cell Regeneration. These pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) were combined with young dental tissue obtained from mouse embryos. Researchers then implanted them into the tiny jawbones of mice. In three weeks, 30 percent of the mice had grown these hard tiny structures. One advantage to harvesting stem cells from urine is that it is a much easier process than harvesting the needed stem cells from a sample of bone marrow. Upon further investigation, these structures contained many of the components of real teeth such as pulp, dentin and enamel, but were not nearly as tough as human teeth. Experimental research like this study can one day lead to further study into tooth regeneration for humans, a miracle for those suffering from tooth loss due to bad health or old age.
While this experimental study allowed researchers to use a novel technique, we’re far from actually growing actual human teeth in a laboratory. For now, we’ll just have to stick with brushing twice a day and flossing to keep those pearly white squeaky clean and healthy.
While we’re inching our way closer to stem cell research, in this study from China the dental tissues were used from mice but the urine samples were human and the actual teeth were grown in mouse kidneys. Suffice it to say, we are still many years off from generalizing these results as bona fide research for humans.
iPSCs seem to have a greater interest among scientists over embryonic stem cells because it avoids the controversial use of embryos. Previously, iPSCs were derived from cultured skin and blood cells so that they wouldn’t be rejected by the host recipient. We have a way to go, but iPSCs may hold the key to future research into medical stem cell regeneration.
While science and technology continues to introduce new ways to keep our own teeth, we at Dr. Mark Langberg, suggest you give us a call at 248-356-8790 for regular dental checkups or for any other dental concerns you may have. Until you can grow your own teeth, we are here to help you with all your dental health and smile cosmetic issues, from implants to fillings. We look forward to offering you only the very best in dental services and techniques. Call us today and discover the difference a great dentist can make!
That is all for today,
Mark W Langberg, DDS, MAGD