Researchers at Kings College London are investigating the development of living teeth from gums and stem cells. They have succeeded in growing hybrid human/mouse teeth in mice with demonstrable root growth.
Previous research using embryonic stem cells has been used to create ‘bioteeth’, but this approach was too expensive and impractical for widespread use. This technique may be more accessible as it uses readily available mesenchyme cells, which are found in wisdom teeth.
The challenge for researchers is in gathering enough of these cells. The next step in the study is to identify a way to culture tooth-inducing adult human mesenchymal cells (rather than embryonic mesenchymal cells).
Implications and next steps:The technology will not be available to the public for a number of years, but this could provide valuable lead-in time to familiarise the public with the concept and answer any questions that may cause social concern or rejection of the laboratory-developed breakthrough.
BBC News: http://tinyurl.com/btaup7n