NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Feb 19 For the first time, teeth grown in culture from single cells have been used successfully to replace natural teeth in mice, Japanese researchers report in the February 18th online issue of Nature Methods.
Dr. Takashi Tsuji, from the Tokyo University of Science in Chiba, and colleagues developed a three-dimensional organ-germ culture method to regrow ectodermal organs, such as teeth and hair follicles.
The researchers began by first growing the constituents of teeth--that is, "completely dissociated single cells from mesenchymal and epithelial tissue from incisor tooth germ at cap stage"--in separate cultures. Once sufficient cell numbers were obtained, the cell types were combined in a collagen matrix.
This bioengineered cell mass developed within one day into "a tooth germ with the appropriate compartmentalization between epithelial and mesenchymal cells and cell-to-cell compaction," the report indicates.
Moreover, when transplanted into the cavity of an extracted tooth in mice, the cell mass became penetrated with blood vessels and nerve fibers and developed into a normal-appearing tooth.
"Our results...make a substantial contribution to the development of bioengineering technologies and the future reconstitution of primordial organs in vitro," the investigators conclude.
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