Stem cell scientists grow human teeth from urine

By: Lance Devon

Could you imagine going to the dentist’s office and handing them a  urine sample so they could grow you a new tooth? Within weeks, stem cells from  your urine could be birthing a tooth right in your own mouth.
This is  exactly what Chinese researchers are onto. Using cells generated from urine,  researchers have found a way to isolate important stem cell subsets, implant  them into a jawline, and generate structures similar to human teeth. Stem cells  from urine are on the verge of become the new building blocks for tooth  implants, as orthodontists may one day be able ‘seed’ new tooth growths in the  jaws of patients who need a transplant.
“These cells can be obtained  through a simple, non-invasive low-cost approach that avoids surgical  procedures,” said Yuanyuan Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of  regenerative medicine and senior researcher on the project.

Urine could regenerate multiple body systems

Reported in the journal Stem Cells, urine stem cells could be used for a variety of regenerative  functions. They have been studied to effectively generate cells that line the  bladder, could alternatively be used to form fat, muscle, and nerve cells, and  could even be used to form bone and cartilage.
So far, Zhang’s research  is proving that urine stem cells may be the safest to use out of all human stem  cells, especially embryonic stem cells which can form tumors when implanted in  the body. According to Zhang’s team, urine stem cells do not form tumors like  embryonic stem cells.  Zhang and his team isolated the special urine stem cells in 2006, learning that  they originate from the upper urinary tract. Their discovery has inspired  further research, as scientists begin moving away from the controversial use of  embryonic stem cells.

Generating strong teeth still in its infant stages

Teeth generated from  urine involves a growth process that takes about three weeks. The science is  still in its infant stages, though, as the ‘tooth structures’ only resemble real teeth. According to the researchers at the Guangzhou  Institutes of Biomedicine and Health, actual human urine  pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) can be used to create different cell types that  mimic tooth components like dentin, enamel, cementum and pulp, but the strength  of these teeth is far from the strength of normal, healthy teeth.
The  results of their latest research, published in the journal Cell  Regeneration, explain how the researchers transplanted urine stem cells into  mice, effectively growing teeth in their jaws similar to human teeth. The major  setback they faced was that they were only able to generate teeth about a third  of the strength of regular human teeth. On top of that, they are only having  about a 30 percent success rate.
For the experiment to be more successful  in humans, they believe in using a patient’s own urine stem cells. By using a  patient’s own stem cells, there may be a lesser chance that the patient’s body  would reject the implanted cells. Bodies typically reject foreign cells.

Hard feat to accomplish

Scientists are just now experimenting with urine  stem cells, but generating strong teeth that connect with nerve and blood  vessels may be a hard feat to accomplish.
Prof. Mason, scientist at  University College London, “The big challenge here is the teeth have got a pulp  with nerve and blood vessels which have to make sure they integrate to get  permanent teeth.”
Prof. Chris Mason believes urine is one of the worst  sources for stem cell  research. He says that the risk of bacterial contamination is higher in these  cells.
“It is probably one of the worst sources, there are very few cells  in the first place and the efficiency of turning them into stem cells is very  low.
“You just wouldn’t do it in this way.” (NaturalNews)