Researchers use human urine to create new teeth

August 2, 2013

A new study published in Cell Regeneration Journal reports that stem cells collected from human urine can be used to create tooth-like structures. The study, which was conducted by Duanqing Pei and colleagues, gives rise to the hope that the technique might one day be used to help grow new teeth for dental patients.

A new study published in Cell Regeneration Journal reports that stem cells collected from human urine can be used to create tooth-like structures.

The study, which was conducted by Duanqing Pei and colleagues, gives rise to the hope that the technique might one day be used to help grow new teeth for dental patients.

According to the researchers, previous studies have already demonstrated that it’s possible to coax discarded cells in human urine into becoming induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), which so far have only been shown to be capable of creating various types of soft tissue cells in animal models.  Until now, growing solid organs and tissues like teeth had escaped researchers.

Duanqing Pei and other researchers invented a chimeric tissue culture system to induce human urine-derived iPSCs combined with the mesenchymal cells of mice to form minute, rudimentary tooth-like structures.  The structures contain nearly the same elasticity as teeth, plus they contain pulp, dentin and cells that form enamel.  Nevertheless, the researchers’ success is fraught with limitations: creating the structures requires mouse cells, the success rate is only around 30%, and the iPSC-created structures show only 1/3 the hardness of actual human teeth.

To work around these limitations, the researchers suggest future experiments substitute the mouse cells with human mesenchymal stems to create a tooth bud that can cultured in-vitro, and then transplanted into the jawbone of a dental patient.

For more information about this study, or to view it in its entirety, head to the Cell Regeneration Journal’s website at www.cellregenerationjournal.com.