The problem of finding stem cells to use in experimental natural-tooth replacement may have an unusual solution. Researchers have developed a way to change cells shed in a patient's own urine into stem cells, which could then be biochemically modified to grow into tooth bud cells.

Changing a developed cell back into a stem cell is a difficult procedure, one that was long sought-after by researchers to escape the controversy surrounding embryonic stem cells, which must be derived from the inner cell layer of a blastocyst, the ball of cells formed five days after fertilization of the egg. This, by some groups, is considered the termination of a living embryo.

In 2012 Shinya Yamanaka and Sir John Gurdon were awarded the Nobel prize for their discovery that adult cells could be re-programmed into stem cells. The process was difficult, and despite improvements there are still limitations on what cells are suitable for what applications. A cell derived from the skin, for instance, may not make a good pluripotent stem cell for a neuron, for example. The suitability often depends on how far down the chain of differentiation the cell being reverse-engineered is. Now, researchers are investigating how cells might be turned into implantable tooth buds that could grow into adult teeth.

A tissue-culture breakthrough made by researchers at Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health has paved the way for this treatment idea to perhaps become a reality. Dr. Duanqing Pei and colleagues developed a new way to use chimeric tissue to cause the stem cells to become tooth-like structures. Their method mimics the normal development of teeth, wherein two different cell types associate with one another and begin producing the materials making up the tooth. Mesenchymal cells produce cementum, dentin and pulp while epithelial cells generate the enamel.

In Dr. Pei's method, biochemical agents are used to mold one group of the cultured stem cells into flat sheets of epithelial cells. These cells are then overlaid with mouse embryonic mesenchymal cells. These sheets are then bundled and transplanted into "parent mice." After three weeks, these cellular units had developed into structures that physically and anatomically resembled human teeth.

Upon measurement, these tooth-like structures exhibited very similar features to healthy forming teeth, containing pulp, dentin and enamel-forming cells. Although these results are exciting, the method has not yet been applied to human teeth. The processes, while innovative, is only successful in generating a tooth structure around 30 percent of the time, and cannot yet be made as strong as human teeth. However, if these obstacles are overcome, this treatment could represent a safe, natural and rejection-free method by which to replace a missing tooth.

Source:
Valentine, N. (2013, July 30). "Urine used to create teeth - stem cell success." Medical News Today. Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/264079.php.

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The information contained in this, or any case study post in Incisor, should never be considered a proper replacement for necessary training and/or education regarding adult oral conscious sedation. Regulations regarding sedation vary by state. This is an educational and informational piece. DOCS Education accepts no liability whatsoever for any damages resulting from any direct or indirect recipient's use of or failure to use any of the information contained herein. DOCS Education would be happy to answer any questions or concerns mailed to us at 3250 Airport Way S, Suite 701 | Seattle, WA 98134. Please print a copy of this posting and include it with your question or request.
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