Chinese researchers describe how stem cells derived from urine could be used to generate solid organs and tissues, including teeth. Their study is published this week in the open-access journal Cell Regeneration. The researchers hope the technique might one day help provide new, tailor-made teeth for dental patients.
Previous stem cell research has shown how cells can be generated from urine. It is also known that cells discarded with urea can become induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) that can then generate many different cell types, including neurons and heart muscle cells.
Tissue culture breakthrough
Duanqing Pei and his colleagues from Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health, and other Chinese universities have developed a novel chimeric tissue culture system that can coax these iPSCs into tiny structures that resemble teeth.
Their system mimics normal tooth development, which results from an interaction between two different cell types: epithelial cells, producing enamel, and mesenchymal cells, which generate the other three main tooth components of dentin, cementum and pulp.
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