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Japanese Scientists Create Teeth Using Mouse Stem Cells

July 13, 2011

Japanese scientists said this week that they have created teeth by using mouse stem cells and successfully transplanted them into mice.

The researchers said the entire tooth units were inserted into the lower jaws of mice and were attached successfully with jaw bones.

“The bioengineered teeth were fully functional … there was no trouble (with) biting and eating food after transplantation,” Masamitsu Oshima, assistant professor at the Research Institute for Science and Technology, Tokyo University of Science, wrote in the journal PLoS One.

The team said they hope this is a step to help the development of new human organs grown from a patient’s own cells.

“At present, researchers worldwide do not have the method to culture three-dimensional organs in vitro (outside the body),” Professor Takashi Tsuji, who led the research, told Reuters.

“It is important to develop technologies for the culture of the bioengineered organ, for the realization of future organ replacement regenerative therapy.”

Experts believe stem cells can generate all the cell types of the organ from which they originate.  Scientists hope to harness stem cells to treat a variety of diseases and disorders.

The Japanese team removed two types of stem cells from the molar teeth of mice and grew them in the laboratory.  The cells were placed in a mold to control the length and shape of the teeth. 

The entire tooth units were then transplanted into the lower jaws of one-month-old mice, according to the team.

The researchers fused the tissues and the jaw bones around them for about 40 days. 

Tsuji said it is important to find the right “seed cells” for reparative therapy.  He said in this case, entire tooth units could be grown because the stem cells were taken from molar teeth of mice.

U.S. researchers created an artificial lung in 2010 that rats used to breath for several hours.

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