Sharpe's team from the Dental Institute at King’s College combined human gum cells with the cells in mice responsible for growing teeth. They transplanted this combination of cells into the mice. The result was hybrid human/mouse teeth with roots.
The ability to make a tooth replacement with roots would be a major step forward in dental surgery. Replacing missing or damaged teeth currently involves fixed or removable dental implants.
Putting Down Roots
Although implants work well, the impact from chewing can wear down the implant. This is not a problem with natural teeth because they have soft tissue at the root that acts as a shock absorber.
The latest advance made by Sharpe and his team brings the prospect of bioengineered teeth with their own root system a step closer. The next step will be finding enough adult sources of human cells to make this new technique a viable alternative to dental implants.
The study appears in the Journal of Dental Research.
SOURCES: Sharpe, P. Journal of Dental Research, published online March 4, 2013.Paul Sharpe, Dickinson professor of craniofacial biology, King's College London.News release, King's College London.
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