Teeth grown in lab

Scientists in Japan have created teeth by using mouse stem cells and have successfully transplanted them into mice.

The entire ‘tooth units’ attached successfully with jaw bones and the mice were able to chew normally, the researchers wrote in a paper in PLoS One (Public Library of Science).

‘The bioengineered teeth were fully functional… there was no trouble (with) biting and eating food after transplantation,’ wrote Masamitsu Oshima, assistant professor at the Research Institute for Science and Technology, Tokyo University of Science.

The researchers hope this is a step to help the development of new human organs grown from a patient’s own cells.

Experts believe they can generate all the cell types of the organ from which they originate.

Because of their ability to generate different types of cells and multiply and extend their own lifespans, scientists hope to harness stem cells to treat a variety of diseases and disorders, including cancer, diabetes and injuries.

Tsuji’s team removed two types of stem cells from the molar teeth of mice and grew them in the laboratory.

To control the length and shape of the teeth, the cells were placed in a mould, where they grew into entire tooth units.

The entire tooth units were then transplanted into the lower jaws of one-month-old mice. They fused with the tissues and jaw bones around them after about 40 days, Tsuji said.

Nerve fibres too could be detected in the new teeth.

Tsuji stressed the importance of finding the right ‘seed cells’ for reparative therapy.

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In this case, entire tooth units could be grown because the stem cells were taken from molar teeth of mice – where they later grew into enamel, dental bones and other parts that comprised a regular tooth unit.

• SOURCE: http://bit.ly/n99Jgj PLOS One, online July 12, 2011.

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