New stem cell research could have you looking at your dentist’s toilet differently.
Urine and teeth are two things you’d rather not associate with each other, but new research into stem cells shows one may be someday used to grow the other.
Researchers from Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health and other Chinese research centers have developed a novel way to grow teeth in mice, using stem cells gathered from urine.
In a study published Tuesday in the journal Cell Regeneration, the scientists showed that a specific type of cells—pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs)—can be engineered from urine and developed into cells to regrow teeth.
The approach could potentially solve a major problem for adults who break or lose teeth through injury or disease.
The research team, led by Dr. Duanqing Pei, made a cellular cocktail of iPSC-based epithelial cells—the most prolific type of cells found in the body—and mouse embryotic cells before transplanting them into mice.
After three weeks, the cells were structurally and physically similar to human teeth. These “teeth” also contained the dentin and pulp found in human teeth, as well as cells capable of forming enamel.
While exciting in terms of cell regeneration, the teeth only had a 30 percent success rate and were only about a third as strong as human teeth, making their consistency closer to chalk than something you could chew with.
Still, the research team concluded that the iPSCs derived from urine could have the potential to one day grow patient-specific dental tissues.
For now, continue to keep your toothbrush away from your toilet.