Dental Education Australia

Researchers Grow Natural Teeth from Gum and Mice Cells

Technological advancements and research may just have made it possible to eventually replace dentures or missing teeth with actual, natural ones which are freshly grown from gum cells. According to a study done in the United Kingdom, cells from adult human gums were combined with stem cells taken from the molars of mouse embryos in order to form teeth with sustainable roots - an interesng development in the dental industry that was also published in the Journal of Dental Research recently.


While the findings are sll at a ground roots level, placing itself at that stage where it sll needs to culvate a long path of research and development in order to eventually find itself viable for clinical use, the astonishing findings represent a huge step forward towards efforts to grow bioengineered replacements for missing teeth. One can get lots of material on dental education over internet.


The findings show that teeth are developed when mesenchymal cells that were taken from the natural crest are combined with embryonic epithelial cells from the mouth. Previous studies have reported that these cell types may be combined in the laboratory in order to form non-synthec teeth. However, the challenge was to come up with non-embryonic sources of the cells that may be conducive for wide usage of tooth-growing in clinics all over the world.


In order to test one source, King’s College in London put together a team of researchers that was led be stem cell biologist Paul Sharpe. Developing the teeth involves combining mesenchymal stem cells, which form a wide variety of ssues such as carlage and bone, and epithelial cells, which are known for forming ‘surface linings’ such as the gums. The team extracted the epithelial cells from adult human gums, allowed for them to culture in the laboratory, and eventually mixed them with the mesenchymal tooth cells that were derived from fetal mice.


Aer one week, the team transplanted the mixture of epithelial cells and mesenchymal tooth cells into the protecve ssue that surrounds the kidneys of mice, which were sll alive, eventually resulng into some of the cells growing into a hybrid of human and mouse teeth which fascinangly contained enamel and denne, and most importantly, living and growing sustainable roots.

"Epithelial cells derived from adult human gum ssue are capable of responding to tooth-inducing signals from embryonic tooth mesenchyme in an appropriate way to contribute to tooth crown and root formaon and give rise to relevant differenated cell types, following in-vitro culture,” Professor Paul Sharpe explained. "These easily accessible epithelial cells are thus a realisc source for consideraon in human ‘bio tooth’ formaon.”

The research has clearly produced that the epithelial cells that were derived from the gum ssue of adult humans responded to the tooth-inducing signals that were culvated from the tooth mesenchyme of the embryonic mouse. This, in turn, makes the gum cells a fairly realisc source for eventual clinical use, Sharpe pointed out in a press release. He added that “the next major challenge is to idenfy 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." Research carried out in the past has shown that embryonic teeth are perfectly capable of going through the normal process of developing healthily in the mouth of an adult human.

“The advance here is we have idenfied a cell populaon you could envisage using in the clinic,” conued Professor Paul Sharpe, who acknowledges and reiterates how further research and development is sll needed in order to make their findings feasible for everyday clinical pracce as well as acknowledged by the general public.


The research team hopes that these findings will eventually pave the way for technologically advanced techniques that will lead to the accepted use of bioengineered teeth, or what is more commonly referred to as 'bio teeth', instead of the current synthec dental implants that are being used in the dental industry. Implants, being synthec and therefore anchoring itself into the mouth in an unnatural and rather temporary manner, are not capable of forming a proper root structure, eventually resulng in wearing away or damaging the jawbone that surrounds it.

"What is required is the idenficaon of adult sources of human epithelial and mesenchymal cells that can be obtained in sufficient numbers to make ‘bio tooth’ formaon a viable alternave to dental implants," explained Sharpe.

Despite the general idea that bioengineered teeth could form a root structure naturally, and that this idea in principle could possibly avoid the problems currently surrounding dental, Professor Sharpe sll noted that 'if it's going to work it has to be about the same price as a dental implant so we have to find a way to do it that is easy and cheap'.

Professor Alastair Sloan, who is an expert in ssue engineering and bone biology at CardiffUniversity, said the findings were significant in taking further steps in technical advances in the dental industry but pointed out that its feasibility will have to face many more hurdles before it becomes readily available to paents worldwide. "They have used cells from the gum and the fact that it is developing a root is an excing step forward,” said Professor Alistair Sloan, who did not take part in the study. “We are sll some way from engineering a whole organ like a tooth but the knock-on effect of research like this is developing bio-fillings, so some aspects of the technology are feasible within the next 10 to 15 years,” he connued.

Not surprisingly, the inial findings of the research has already faced some degree of unacceptability from the general public, despite being an unrefined finding that is far from what densts would deem ethically acceptable to carry out in dental pracce. The use of cells from embryonic mice, which are creatures more widely regarded by the public as pests, has expectedly raised the eyebrows of some people. “In order to avoid using human embryos, the team used adult human epithelial (gum) cells combined with mesenchymal (tooth) cells from the mice, then implanted the mixture into kidney ssue of living mice. What grew was a set of human-mouse hybrid teeth, which is the most frightening phrase I’ve wrien in weeks,” a contributor wrote.


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