Scientists are step closer to making teeth from scratch after 'hybrid tooth' is made in mouse's mouth


Science Editor

Scientists have taken a step closer to growing human teeth from scratch using cells taken from a patient’s mouth. They envisage that missing or diseased teeth could one day be replaced by freshly-grown, living teeth.

A “hybrid” tooth made from a mixture of human gum cells and mouse embryonic cells has been grown in laboratory mice to test a method that might in the future be adapted to become an alternative to dental implants.

Researchers believe that growing bioengineered teeth from a patient’s own cells could revolutionise dentistry, which in recent years has focussed on replacing damaged or missing teeth with porcelain crowns attached to metal implants inserted into the jaw.

“The idea is to identify cells that you can put together and will grow into an immature tooth, which will develop into a mature tooth after it is inserted into the patient’s mouth,” said Professor Paul Sharpe of King's College London

The “bio-tooth” produced by mixing human gum cells with embryonic mouse cells formed viable roots with good periodontal ligaments which normally anchor healthy teeth to the jawbone, Professor Sharpe said.

As well as anchoring teeth, the periodontal ligaments act as shock absorbers during chewing. Metal implants are rigidly fixed to the bone and do not have shock absorbers, which can damage the jawbone over time, he said.

The study, published in the Journal of Dental Research, is the first demonstration of a bio-tooth grown by combining a human gum cells with embryonic cells of a mouse.

The gum cells were epithelial cells, which formed the outer hard enamel of a tooth, while the mouse cells were mesenchymal cells, which form the inner dentine and tooth pulp, Professor Sharpe said.

The hybrid tooth could never be used in human transplant dentistry because it contains animal-derived material. It was only created to demonstrate that the procedure can produce a viable tooth, he added.

The next step is to identify a source of mesenchymal cells in the patient that could be combined with epithelial cells to make a pure-human immature tooth which can then be transplanted into the patient’s jaw as a living replacement for a lost tooth, he said.

“I see this as a step forward on what has been done before. It is an advance, and these cells work when put together in this way but we need to find a source of human mesenchymal cells,” Professor Sharpe said.

“Mesenchymal cells are essential and you need to grow them in large quantities. Once we get them, then everything else will be in place and we can begin to translate this into clinical practice,” he said.

“What is required is the identification of adult sources of human epithelial and mesenchymal cells that can be obtained in sufficient numbers to make biotooth formation a viable alternative to dental implants,” Professor Sharpe added.

The hybrid bio-teeth were grown in the kidneys of laboratory mice to demonstrate that they can develop normally. They look much like ordinary teeth, with good roots and periodontal ligaments, Professor Sharpe said.

“The primary objective is to make a root with good periodontal ligaments. The rest of the tooth is really irrelevant as that can be dealt with by crowns,” he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: SEO Account Manager

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SEO Account Manager is requi...

SThree: Associate Recruitment Consultant - Global Leader - FTSE 250

£18000 - £23000 per annum + competitive: SThree: As an Associate Recruitment C...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Representative

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family run school photogra...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - OTE £42,000

£28000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be joining a leading s...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map