August 6, 2009

Bioengineered Teeth – A successful experiment

Lab Mouse for TestingModern science and technology are capable of creating the unimaginable – we are constantly amazed and awed by each small discovery. However, are we ready to experience a whole new form of amazement?

Scientists in Japan have successfully been able to bioengineer teeth in adult mice. That’s right – they have found a way to give a mouse a whole new set of chops. So far, their method only works on adult mice, however someday soon there may be a similar method that works on adults.

The team, led by cell biologist Takashi Tsuji from Tokyo University of Science, focused on embryonic tissues that develop into teeth. He extracted these tissues from mouse embryos, separated the epithelial cells and mesenchymal cells, recombined them into a new bioengineered tooth germ, grew them for 5-7 days, planted them into the jaws of adult mice, and voila! New healthy teeth reached their full potential after just 49 days. The new teeth proved to be just like the real thing – they had roots, inner pulp, outer enamel, and proved to be just as hard and durable as normal teeth. Previous studies have been tried, but none were as successful as this recent experiment.

This method is not perfected. It will still be many years before it can be successful enough to work on humans. Although this is a huge step in science, for the mean time, it’s probably best to take care of the teeth you have, or stick to implants and dentures – it may be a long and painful 49 days waiting for your new tooth to grow back!


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