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Researchers grow natural teeth from epithelial cells

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Researchers from King’s College London have achieved a breakthrough method during which they can grow real teeth from a person’s own gum cells.

The study published the Journal of Dental Research is first major advance in developing a method to replace missing teeth with new bioengineered teeth.

Researchers isolated some cells from adult human gum (gingival) tissue from patients and grew them in the lab, and then combined them with cell mesenchyme cells from mice.

The mixed cell was transplanted into mice to start growing into a tooth. The result revealed hybrid human-mouse teeth that had 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,” the research leader Professor Paul Sharpe clarified the method.

As mesenchyme cells can be found in the pulp of wisdom teeth, among other sources, the difficult part of the research had been in getting hold of enough cells.

The experts believe that the recent research is valuable in dentistry while the current implant-based methods of whole tooth replacement fail to reproduce a natural root structure.

“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,” Sharpe noted in the report.


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