BEIJING, July 30 — Chinese scientists have successfully grown tooth-like structures from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells), the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) said.
The structures were found to possess physical properties, such as elasticity and hardness, that are similar those found in regular human teeth, according to a statement issued by CAS on Tuesday.
The research efforts were led by Pei Duanqing, a researcher at the CAS's Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health.
A related paper has been published online in the journal Cell Regeneration.
The scientists differentiated iPS cells derived from human urine and then recombined them with dental mesenchymes isolated from mouse embryos, according to the statement.
The recombinant was later transplanted to mouse bodies and tooth-like structures were recovered within three weeks, it said.
The tooth-like structures have the same features as human teeth, including dental enamel, dentin, dental pulp and cementum, the statement said.
"There are currently some problems with the research, such as the use of mice cells, a low success rate and low enamel hardness, but these will be solved through further improvements," Pei said.
Pei said the research results demonstrated that the urine iPS technique can be used to regenerate patient-specific dental tissues or even teeth and may be further developed for drug screening or clinical regenerative therapies.
Like embryonic stem cells, iPS stem cells can develop into any cell in the human body.
Shinya Yamanaka, a professor at Kyoto University, was one of the winners of the 2012 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for developing an iPS cell harvesting technique that allows stem cells to be obtained from adult tissue instead of from embryos, thus avoiding the ethical and legal barriers that embryonic stem cells face. (PNA/Xinhua)