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
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee