Monday, December 30, 2013

Scientists Grow Teeth from Urine

A team of scientists have successfully grown teeth with the dental pulp, dentin, enamel space and an enamel organ from urine.   The team was led by Duang Pei,a professor of stem cell biology from Guangzhou Institute of
Growing Teeth From Urine
Biomedicine and Health in China.  Epithelial cells were converted into pluripotent stem cells (IPS) cells.  IPS cells can be grown into different types of tissues including teeth.  "Normally, the way you get cells for reprogramming is that you do a biopsy on the skin," say Pei.  People would rather pee in a cup than hold still for a needle or skin biopsy, especially children.  It's a good way to get cells from kids without being invasive.

Urine is not the only way to get IPS cells, and it's unlikely. "You can drive a lot of IPS cells from a single hair." sais Paul Sharpe, head of the craniofacial development and orthodonticds dept at Kings College London.  "You could make teeth from a hair or from other teeth."

Making a new tooth is difficult.  There needs to be a periodontal ligament that attaches the tooth to the bone, and not just a tooth. Pei's tooth has good roots.  As for urine having bacteria, midstream it is pretty sterile. Pei has never encountered any type of infection.

Urine contains contaminants, so the overall viability of the cells produced poor specimens, explains Dr. John Comisi, a dentist and spokesperson or the Academy o General Dentistry. Chris Mason, a stem cell scientist at University College London, also agreed that urine would not be viable to regenerate teeth.  "You just wouldn't do it this way," he said.  Comisi explained that the science of regenerating teeth from stem cells has be around for more than a decade, using bone marrow and baby teeth. Companies are cryogenically storing baby teeth for science but it is three to five years out. Mason also explained that implanting newly grown teeth to work with existing teeth still needs tackled.

Although not as hard as natural teeth and not yet a viable way to grown teeth, maybe it can become a viable option in the future. Perhaps in the future when people need a dentist, they can replace a bad tooth instead of it.  +Verde Pointe Dental Associates and Marietta dentist  +Kirk Kimmerling DDS look forward to the research becoming a reality. The research was published in Cell Regeneration Journal on July 30, 2013.