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August 5, 2009

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Scientists grow teeth using embryo cells

SCIENTISTS in Japan have managed to grow fully functional teeth in adult mice using cells from an embryo, and they hope the same technology can be used to grow human organs in the future.

"This therapy has the potential to restore the partial loss of organ function," they wrote in their paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The researchers described how they had developed a "bioengineered tooth germ" - or seed containing certain cells taken from a mouse embryo. The seeds were later transplanted into the jawbones of adult mice.

By day 37 after the transplantation, the researchers noticed the bioengineered teeth were beginning to show and the rodents were able to nibble with their new tooth.

"The hardness of the enamel and dentin of the bioengineered tooth was equivalent to those of a natural adult tooth," they wrote in response to questions from the media.

The new tooth also came complete with nerve fibers and the mice responded to pain tests.

Led by Takashi Tsuji of the Research Institute of Science and Technology at the Tokyo University of Science, the team hopes this technology can be used to grow human organs.


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