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Wednesday 21 July 2004

Grow Your Own Teeth [spiro]

One of my greatest hates is the dentist. It seems like every time I go in they find something to do. The last 3 time's I've been they've replaced fillings done previously. For one reason or another they've cracked or chipped and need fixing.
I can't stand being drilled, poked, scraped, and injected in the mouth. What I want is Star Trek style dentistry; I want them to re-grow my teeth so they are as good as new. Well I came across this last night whilst waiting for a take away. It’s an article from the Daily Mail and I can't wait for this to happen.
Dentures and toothless grins could soon become a thing of the past. New technology will allow doctors to grow a patient new teeth to replace those lost to decay, old age or injury. For years, scientists have talked about growing new organs from stem cells _ the 'master building cells' of the human body.
Now it has emerged that something as small as a tooth could be grown using human stem cells. The technique has already been perfected in mice, and human trials are expected to start soon.
Teeth grown in lab
Stem cells have been located in the dental pulp chamber of the human tooth, and British and U.S. researchers say teeth could be grown in the same way as other tissue within the next few years.
The technology will work by taking cells from the patient's tooth, then treating and culturing them in the lab.
Once this has happened, they will be re-implanted in the patient's jaw, under the gum where the tooth is missing.
Race with US
The breakthrough science has been developed by dental researchers at King's College Hospital, London, led by Professor Paul Sharpe, who hopes to engineer the first human tooth within a couple of years. Results of his research have just been published in the Journal Of Dental Research.
But he is in a race with U.S. scientists from Boston, who have been using the same technique on rats and pigs.
It is thought it would take just a matter of weeks for a new 'stem cell' tooth to develop fully. The cost should not be more than the price of synthetic implants (£1,500-£2,000).
Professor Sharpe says: 'The aim is that patients will go along to their dentist, who will take cells and engineer them. The cells will then be replaced into the site and the new tooth will grow.'
It ought to be possible for dentists to grow whole new sets of teeth for people who have lost many of their teeth due to accidents or gum disease.
Treated stem cells would be implanted in the gums where a tooth had been lost. Professor Sharpe says it ought to be possible to grow a group of stem cells into a fully-formed live tooth in around two months.
His research team took non-dental stem cells from mice and coaxed them to form tooth tissue. The cells continued to form tooth material when transferred into the mice's jaws.
Researchers say that stem cell tissue used to grow teeth could also be used to form new bone, and repair jaws damaged in accidents or by disease.
On average, Britons lose around a dozen teeth over their lifetime. Scientists believe that human 'replacement teeth' will be better for the mouth than dentures. 'A key advantage of our technology is that a living tooth can preserve the health of the surrounding tissues much better than prosthesis,' says Professor Sharpe.
'Teeth are living, and they are able to respond to a person's bite. They move, and in doing so they maintain the health of the surrounding gums and teeth.'


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