New scientific research may soon lead to the creation of human teeth, after a research team in China discovered a stem cell related to tooth growth. Even better, the stem cell discovered does not come from fetus embryos. Instead, all scientists need to make new teeth is a glass of human urine.
The study, published today in Cell Regeneration Journal, involved the dissection of multiple cells in rats in pursuit of discovering a “starting” cell in which to convert into a tooth. Of all the rat cells harvested, those taken from the animal’s urine made the best teeth. These urine stem cells were then combined with a number of other rat materials, and then that mixture was implemented into test subjects.
After three weeks, the bundle of cells implemented into the test rats began to take on tooth-like features. Researchers describe the results as, “The tooth-like structure contained dental pulp, dentin, enamel space and enamel organ.”
Unfortunately, urine isn’t a great source of stem cells in general. Even though urine produced the best type of teeth, the urine teeth weren’t as hard as normal teeth, and would be unlikely to withstand daily use.
Urine is also a poor source for stem cells because there aren’t many cells in the urine to collect. Scientists would need to spend extra time searching for stem cells in the urine if they wanted to continue using them. Stem cells taken from urine also suffer a larger risk of contamination. The vast amount of bacteria in urine means that urine-based stem cells are more likely to carry disease as they become teeth.
Perhaps human-urine-based teeth aren’t as close as we might have hoped for, but this study still showcases the increasing practicality within the world of stem-cell research.