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Forsyth Institute scientists grow new teeth in lab. (Upfront).

Researchers at Boston's Forsyth Institute have found a way to regenerate living mammalian teeth in laboratory rats. Many members of the oral health community consider this a medical breakthrough.

While the new teeth resembled the real kind, they were formed by combining cells taken from six-month-old piglets and biodegradable polymer scaffolds. The teeth were morphologically correct organs, containing dentin, odonto-blasts, pulp chambers, and full enamel. Though far from conclusive, researchers are also looking into the possibility of using dental stem cells to achieve similar results.

The tests were examined over a 30-week period, at which time researchers were able to view new tooth crowns developing in the rat hosts. The results of nearly two-dozen experiments showed that these were the first mature tooth crowns to successfully harbor both dentin and enamel. Researchers feel that these findings also may lead to developing teeth of specific shapes and sizes to meet the needs of patients in years to come.

Scientists have attempted to engineer teeth in the past. Yet, none of the previously engineered teeth had grown complete structures that included enamel. Scientists have deemed the results as encouraging, but the jury is still out on growing teeth in humans. Forsyth researchers feel that developing teeth in humans may take another 5 to 10 years before results are conclusive.

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Author:Molony, Thomas
Publication:Journal of Dental Hygiene
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2002
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