In 2004, scientists at King's College London discovered a way to cultivate a complete tooth in mice and were able to grow them stand-alone in the laboratory. Researchers are confident that this technology can be used to grow live teeth in human patients.
In theory, stem cells taken from the patient could be coaxed in the lab into turning into a tooth bud which, when implanted in the gums, will give rise to a new tooth, which would be expected to take two months to grow. It will fuse with the jawbone and release chemicals that encourage nerves and blood vessels to connect with it. The process is similar to what happens when humans grow their original adult teeth.
It's estimated that it may take until 2009 before the technology is widely available to the general public, but the genetic research scientist behind the technique, Professor Paul Sharpe of King's College, estimates the method could be ready to test on patients by 2007.His startup company, Odontis, fully expects to offer tooth replacement therapy by the end of the decade.
In 2005, Cryopraxis a stem cell bank in Brazil, collected baby tooth stem cells and harvested different types of differentiated cell types including neurons. This technology may one day make baby tooth a good source of stem cells.
In the next three years, Paul Sharpe hopes to identify more-accessible stem cells that may be able to form not only teeth, but also--and more importantly--roots.
24+ years in the dental field
· 1 decade ago