Published July 30, 2013
Scientists have discovered a way to grow teeth from stem cells taken from human urine, Medical Daily reported.
Previous research has demonstrated the possibility for generating induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from urine samples. Now, in a study published in Cell Regeneration Journal, researchers have detailed how they were able to use these cells to grow structures resembling human teeth in mice models.
“The tooth-like structure contained dental pulp, dentin, enamel space and enamel organ," the researchers wrote. "In particular, these regenerative teeth contain enamel with ameloblast-like cells of human origin and possess physical properties found in the regular human tooth. Thus, human [stem cells] could be a candidate source of seed cells on human tooth tissue-engineering for further drug screening or regenerative therapies."
The researchers, from the Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health in China, expressed enthusiasm at the possibility of using stem cells from urine in other areas of regenerative medicine as well, Medical Daily reported. However, other experts remain skeptical because of the high-contamination risk for stem cells derived from urine – among other reasons.
"It is probably one of the worst sources; there are very few cells in the first place, and the efficiency of turning them into stem cells is very low," Chris Mason, a researcher at University College, London, told reporters. "You just wouldn't do it in this way."
Despite this, the study’s authors maintain that their discovery is a strong preliminary step towards the idea that stem cells could eventually be used to address patient-specific dental issues.