The Cell Regeneration journal has recently published the results of a scientific study, which shows that lab scientists have found a way to use human urine to acquire some specific stem-cells that can be cultured into producing artificial teeth.
After extensive research, a Chinese team of scientists is confident that they will be able to replace lost teeth with these artificial tooth structures created from urine, by using a special technique.
Some stem-cell researchers have expressed their reservations, saying that there are still many challenges to overcome before this goal can be achieved. Urine is surely one of the most undesirable sources for extracting tooth-building cells.
The BBC has recently reported that; Teams of researchers around the world are looking for ways of growing new teeth to replace those lost with age and poor dental hygiene.
Stem cells – the master cells which can grow into any type of tissue – are a popular area of research.
The group at the Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health used urine as the starting point.
Cells which are normally passed from the body, such as those from the lining of the body’s waterworks, are harvested in the laboratory. These collected cells are then coaxed into becoming stem cells.
A mix of these cells and other material from a mouse was implanted into the animals.
The researchers said that; after three weeks the bundle of cells started to resemble a tooth: “The tooth-like structure contained dental pulp, dentin, enamel space and enamel organ.” However, the “teeth” were not as hard as natural teeth.
This piece of research is not immediately going to lead to new options for the dentist, but the researchers say it could lead to further studies towards “the final dream of total regeneration of human teeth for clinical therapy”.
‘The Worst Source’
Prof Chris Mason, a stem cell scientist at University College London said; “Urine is a poor starting point. It is probably one of the worst sources, there are very few cells in the first place and the efficiency of turning them into stem cells is very low. You just wouldn’t do it in this way.”
He also warned that; “The risk of contamination, such as through bacteria, was much higher than with other sources of cells. The big challenge here is that the teeth have got a pulp with nerve and blood vessels, which have to make sure they integrate to get permanent teeth.”