Scientists have come a step closer to replacing missing teeth with implants grown from stem cells.
Researchers managed to engineer hybrid human-mouse teeth coated in enamel with developing roots.
It could mean that in future dentures are replaced by real substitute molars grown from "seeds" planted into a patient's jaw.
- The technique involved growing cells from human gum tissue and combining them with tooth stem cells from mouse embryos
- The combination cell clusters were transplanted into adult mouse kidneys where they grew into recognisable tooth structures
- Examination showed that they contained dentin - the main structural material of teeth - as well as hard protective enamel. There was also evidence of viable root formation
Two kinds of cell were used to make the bioengineered teeth. Epithelial "surface lining" cells were taken from the gum tissue and mesenchymal cells from the mouse embryos. Mesenchymal stem cells can develop into a range of different tissues, including bone, cartilage and fat.
The findings are published in the latest issue of the Journal Of Dental Research.