In an article in Science World Report, a team of scientists have combined stem cells with the cells of mice that form teeth (mesenchyme cells). It’s certainly a step in the right direction just need to take the mice out of the equation. Full article below:
Replacing missing teeth with new bioengineered teeth, grown from stem cells generated from a person’s own gum cells, is a new method that will be vastly superior to the currently used implant technology.
New research, published in the Journal of Dental Research and led by Professor Paul Sharpe, an expert in craniofacial development and stem cell biology at King’s College London’s Dental Institute, describes advances in the development of this method by sourcing the required cells from a patient’s own gum.
Research towards producing bioengineered teeth, also called bioteeth, aims to grow new and natural teeth by employing stem cell technology which generates immature teeth (teeth primordia) that mimic those in the embryo. These can be transplanted as small cell pellets into the adult jaw to develop into functional teeth, the researchers say.
Remarkably, despite the very different environments, embryonic teeth primordia can develop normally in the adult mouth. Embryonic tooth primordia cells can readily form immature teeth following dissociation into single cell populations and subsequent recombination, but such cell sources are impractical to use in a general therapy.
“What is required is the identification of adult sources of human epithelial and mesenchymal [stem] cells that can be obtained in sufficient numbers to make biotooth formation a viable alternative to dental implants,” said Sharpe.
This challenge was now solved by the researchers, who sucessfully isolated adult human gum (gingival) tissue from patients at the Dental Institute at King’s College London, grew more of it in the lab, and then combined it with the cells of mice that form teeth (mesenchyme cells). By transplanting this combination of cells into mice, the researchers were able to grow hybrid human/mouse teeth containing dentine and enamel, as well as viable roots.
“Epithelial cells derived from adult human gum tissue are capable of responding to tooth inducing signals from embryonic tooth mesenchyme in an appropriate way to contribute to tooth crown and root formation and give rise to relevant differentiated cell types, following in vitro culture,” said Sharpe.
“These easily accessible epithelial cells are thus a realistic source for consideration in human biotooth formation. The next major challenge is to identify a way to culture adult human mesenchymal cells to be tooth-inducing, as at the moment we can only make embryonic mesenchymal cells do this.”