Replacement "bioteeth" from stem cells a step closer
Previous research toward producing bio-engineered teeth (or “bioteeth”) has focused on the growing of new teeth by using embryonic cells inserted into an adult jaw as “pellets.” Despite the marked difference in environment, such immature teeth (teeth primordia) can develop into normal adult teeth given the right conditions. However, embryonic cells are typically considered unappealing for widespread use, so what’s really needed is a an adult source of tooth cells.
"What is required is the identification of adult sources of human epithelial and mesenchymal cells that can be obtained in sufficient numbers to make biotooth formation a viable alternative to dental implants,” explained Professor Sharpe, an expert in craniofacial development and stem cell biology at King’s College London’s Dental Institute, who led the research.
To this end, the new research isolated adult human gum tissue from patients at King’s College London’s Dental Institute, then combined the gum tissue with the embryonic cells which are responsible for forming teeth in mice. Transplanting this combination of cells into test-mice resulted in the culture of hybrid human and mouse teeth which contained dentine and enamel, in addition to viable roots.
The work is still in its infancy, and the next step for the scientists is to create the teeth without the need for mouse cells.
The research was recently published in the Journal of Dental Research.