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Biotech Science

Growing Teeth with Stem Cell Technology 340

davidoff404 writes "Lost a tooth lately? Well, a natural cure may be at hand. The BBC is reporting on a grant awarded to researchers at King's College, London, which they say will allow them to develop a technique for growing natural replacement teeth. Using recently developed techniques, stem cells can be programmed to develop into teeth, and then inserted into the gap in a patient's jaw. According to the BBC, the research has already been successfully performed on mice, and clinical trials on humans should begin within two years."
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Growing Teeth with Stem Cell Technology

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  • by Novanix ( 656269 ) * on Monday May 03, 2004 @10:16AM (#9040604) Homepage
    This King's College sure sounds like a front for some true organ cloning, I bet they are running this tooth thing at a loss. Wake up Drucker [] here we come! Of course how will we tell the hicks apart?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, 2004 @10:16AM (#9040607)
    Research on growing teeth? In England? THERE's a fucking surprise, mate.
  • Wonderful! (Score:5, Funny)

    by FrYGuY101 ( 770432 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @10:16AM (#9040609) Journal
    Finally, a solution to the near-catastrophic lack of Rodent Teeth! I can sleep easy tonight!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, 2004 @10:16AM (#9040610)
    alabama and west virginia?
  • by datastalker ( 775227 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @10:17AM (#9040617) Homepage
    I understand why they're necessary, but come on, why do they have nerves in them? Fingernails and hair are necessary, and evolution seems to have gotten both of those correct... so why do teeth have nerves? And does this growing of new teeth include the nerves? I have had five root canals and stopped counting my cavities at 40 (I'm half English, that's why - the stereo-type is based in reality), so I am looking to get FAKE teeth (the kind that screw into the jaw - I already have one) and be rid of the miserable real ones I have. I sure as hell don't want them replaced with new real ones. That would just be excruciating.
    • do you want your teeth growing longer and longer? would you want to have to trim your teeth along with your hair and nails?

      teeth aren't made of the same stuff as hair and nails. teeth are bones, and all bones have blood vessels and nerves in them... unless you want flexible teeth of course...

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, 2004 @10:31AM (#9040807)
        Correction: teeth are made of enamel, not bone. Enamel is much harder than bone (and in fact living bone tissue is rather flexible IIRC). Teeth have to made of harder stuff than bone in order to grind up some of the different types of foods that omnivores like humans eat.
    • by stecoop ( 759508 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @10:25AM (#9040723) Journal
      Since you have root canales than you know that the tooth "dies" when you remove the blood vessels. The tooth is a healthy living organ requiring nutrients. You can remove this but than the tooth starts turning black from the lack of nutrients (any real dentist please step in and fill the voids of knowledge). The nerves are there to let you know when something is wrong. Yeah I wish my legs didn't have nerves when I brook it but I need to know that something was wrong.
      • by charyou-tree ( 774046 ) <> on Monday May 03, 2004 @10:40AM (#9040935)
        The tooth is a healthy living organ requiring nutrients. You can remove this but than the tooth starts turning black

        A more signficant issue is that a dead tooth (ie, post root canal) tends to become brittle over time, and much more likely to suddenly break when stressed.

    • by Ouroboro ( 10725 ) * <aaron_hoyt&yahoo,com> on Monday May 03, 2004 @10:28AM (#9040770) Homepage Journal
      It is my understanding that most of the differences in tooth health around the world are due to environmental variance. I grew up in a place where there was a lot of fluoride in the water, and the schools also had programs to provide additional fluoride. This has given me very hard tooth enamel. In the 30+ years of my life, I've only ever had one cavity filled. One would presume that they would grow the teeth in an environment that fosters teeth that are healthy.
    • Honestly, I have a friend with full dentures who says she's never been happier in her life. No more pain or discomfort, and when they need work she simply sends them out.

      I'd consider this step just the first phase though. What they need to figure out is how to inject a current root with cells that turn a tooth into a "baby" tooth that loosens and falls out on its own, and then is replaced. Sort of like the "Shark Model," only different.

    • You're right, once your teeth have matured, your nerves serve only one function [] - to tell the difference between hot and cold.

      To quote from the site:

      You might think that a tooth's nerve tissue is vitally important to a tooth's health and function, but in reality it's not. A tooth's nerve tissue plays an important role in the growth and development of the tooth, but once the tooth has erupted through the gums and has finished maturing the nerve's only function is sensory (it provides the tooth with the ab
      • by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:35PM (#9042304)
        Bah. I take issue with this write-up.
        This is exactly what my dentist told me too. However, the problem is with this line:

        If a tooth's nerve tissue is present and healthy, wonderful.

        No, not wonderful. If I could, I'd have all the nerves removed from my teeth. All they do is hurt every time I eat something cold. Having slightly receding gums makes it much worse than for normal people. I've had one root canal, and that tooth which used to hurt a lot when I ate ice cream now doesn't feel anything at all. Now if I could only have that done easily for the other teeth.
    • by Milo Fungus ( 232863 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:11PM (#9042024)

      I had a class in comparative vertebrate morphology last term, and we talked about this very issue. Highly innnervated teeth is a mammalian trait. Other vertebrates (reptiles, amphibians, birds, fish, etc.) don't have a lot of nerves in their teeth. As you probably know, mammals have only two sets of teeth: the milk (or "baby") teeth and the adult teeth. The milk teeth fall out and are replaced during childhood/adolscence. Other vertebrates typically grow replacement teeth throughout their lives.

      Why is this the case? Mammals process their food with their teeth much more than other vertebrates do. This allows us to eat more difficult things like tough plant parts and insects with hard exoskeletons that are unavailable as a food source to other vertebrates. This is one of the keys to mammalian success.

      Mastication requires precise occlusion of the upper and lower teeth. Mammalian teeth have highly specialized forms for grinding, shearing, tearing, etc., and different regions of the jaw have different shapes of teeth. This precise occlusion is hard to maintain if teeth are constantly being lost and regrown, so mammals compromised: In exchange for really excellent, highly specialized teeth that allow them to exploit otherwise unavailable food resources, they only have two sets of teeth for their entire lives.

      Here's a geek analogy: you have a certain amount of money you can spend on a new computer. Do you spend the big bucks and get a really great piece of hardware (like a G5 PowerMac or something) or do you buy rubbish and get two of them? Mammals decided to spend the big bucks and buy quality. Judging by the success of mammals, I'd say they made a good decision.

      Having such awesome, precious teeth, mammals must protect them. The muscles of the jaw are easily strong enough to crush your teeth into powder. Having lots of nerves in teeth is one way that mammals prevent their teeth from premature destruction.

      So how did mammals get away with only having two sets of teeth? Two ideas: 1) selection is weaker on older organisms that have already reproduced. Problems related to teeth wearing out are generally found among older individuals. 2) Primitive mammals were typically small (like the size of most rodents). Body size is positively correlated with lifespan in mammals, so the early mammals probably idn't live to be very old. Perhaps they didn't live long enough to wear out their teeth. By the time larger mammals evolved the dentition system was sort of set in stone, and they had to make do in other ways (and there are some amazing adaptations found among mammals for preserving their adult teeth as long as possible).

  • by ClippyHater ( 638515 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @10:17AM (#9040618) Journal
    Note: This does not mean you can stop brushing your teeth, people! Flossing, okay, maybe, but continue to brush. Please...
    • Patient: Do I have to floss all my teeth?

      Dentist: No just the ones you want to keep.

      Seriously, even if this works, nothing is 100% and I'm sure they're will be some screw ups, i.e. gum infections, roots not fitting, jaw bone to destroyed to set new teeth, etc.

      Having just had a root canal done recently, I can tell you, take care of your teeth cuz when things go wrong, it hurrrttts!
  • by yndrd ( 529288 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @10:18AM (#9040627) Homepage
    No more brushing my teeth and all the Coke I can drink!

    Take that, Mother, with all your dire predictions about my teeth rotting out.
    • My eighteen year old self IS pleased...
    • by beckerie ( 775211 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @10:29AM (#9040776)
      It's worrying to think that this development might lead to people becoming complacent about their oral hygiene. Just as the pill doesn't prevent people from contracting STD's, the ability to grow teeth through stem cell technology shouldn't send the message to the general public that it's OK to cut corners with personal health.

      Prevention is better than a cure any day.

      • by FreeUser ( 11483 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @10:54AM (#9041070)
        It's worrying to think that this development might lead to people becoming complacent about their oral hygiene. Just as the pill doesn't prevent people from contracting STD's, the ability to grow teeth through stem cell technology shouldn't send the message to the general public that it's OK to cut corners with personal health.

        Exactly right. Jokes about no longer flossing aside, if you lose your gums to gum disease, it won't matter how many shiny new teeth you can grow. Without gums they'll be worse than useless, they'll be a liability, complete with nerves to exact an excruciating lesson as to why.

        That having been said, its an excellent addition to our medical/dental toolkit, and one I welcome. Stupid people will use it as an excuse to let their hygene go to hell ... the rest of us will continue to excersize good habits, and have even better dental health available to us than beforehand...complete with new teeth when our old ones fail simply as a result of age, get cracked, or otherwise damaged with time and use.
  • by JohnGrahamCumming ( 684871 ) * <slashdot AT jgc DOT org> on Monday May 03, 2004 @10:20AM (#9040652) Homepage Journal
    This is wonderful news, now I can grow teeth like Tom Cruise's.

    Oh wait, this research was done in the UK.

    Make that Austin Powers.

  • Niven (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 100lbHand ( 676832 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @10:20AM (#9040653)
    Looks like some one has been reading A Gift From Earth.
    Old men with baby teeth, that just freaks me out.
    It would be the Brits to start doing this though.
  • Yesh! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Awwright!! Now I can finally regain my old vigour and shtamina! No more shtupid den-turesh for me. Shpeaking with thish interminable lishp is killing me.

    Cohen the Barbarian
    Reshipient of Oldesht Living Barbarian Award

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, 2004 @10:22AM (#9040683)
    It would be cool if in the future you could have some plasmid novelty joke gum that would alter the stem cell DNA and turn the tooth into a penis or ass. You've been Punk'd, ass mouth!
  • of all the things (Score:4, Insightful)

    by millahtime ( 710421 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @10:24AM (#9040700) Homepage Journal
    of all the things to grow are teeth. Why not something like hair. That's where the money is. Look at all the infomercials.
    • Why not something like hair. That's where the money is. Look at all the infomercials.
      Oh, no...

      Consider the disaster for one of the few growth industries in IT!

      What shams will the spam industry sell if we can start growing things medically?!

      Quit the statistics courses, guys... there is no future in getting around the Bayesian analysis, anymore... :-(

    • Why not something like hair.
      Judging by the spam I get, there's other (...cough cough, ahem) body parts, usually associated with the male of the species, which are popular with the enhancement sales crowd. Not that it's necessary in my case, of course. My hand ^H^H^H^H girlfriend hasn't complained yet....
  • by Gaewyn L Knight ( 16566 ) <> on Monday May 03, 2004 @10:24AM (#9040704) Homepage Journal
    Now it won't only be the cute kids singing:
    "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth.."
  • Keep it up, Europe (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Patik ( 584959 ) *
    Too bad Bush won't allow the U.S. to fund this fantastic, useful research because it clashes with his religious ideals. I can only hope that universities and companies within Europe keep moving forward.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Bush never banned stem cells. He simply limited the ways they could be gotten. And then somebody figured out how to derive them and made the entire arguement null and void, so life in the US Stem Cell research industry went on, life as normal.
      • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) * on Monday May 03, 2004 @11:19AM (#9041378) Homepage Journal
        Bush limited fetal stem cell lines eligible for US federally funded research to those available at the time the decision was made. Since then, most of those lines have been found to be so contaminated as to be useless. US researchers were and are crippled by this decision. If you claim that someone has found a way to create clean, pluripotent stem cell lines that do everything new fetal stem cells can do, please provide a citation -- I follow this issue closely and haven't heard about it.
    • Too bad Bush won't allow the U.S. to fund this fantastic, useful research because it clashes with his religious ideals

      Step back, oh, sixty-seventy years.

      "Too bad the UK won't allow this stunning new Eugenics research, because it clashes with their religious ideals. I mean, it's not like they're PEOPLE or anything."

      Stopping research because of religiously-based morals has a long and time-honored tradition, that didn't start with Bush and won't go away when he leaves office.

      That said, Bush is just fine
      • by TGK ( 262438 )
        I know where you're coming from, but the way Bush went about this was one of the most offensive things about his administration.

        Bush banned research on stem cells harvested from abortions. Abortions are going to happen reguardless, harvesting stem cells at least allows the death of the unborn child (if you buy into that) to serve to save lives and better humanity.

        If Bush wanted to prevent abortions from happening to get stem cells he should have put in place laws restricting the availability of stem cell
    • Funny how another article in the NYT says "The US is losing dominance in the sciences []". Keep it up, Bush team! Soon we'll be living in that conservative, backwards anti-scientific paradise in no time!
    • by HBPiper ( 472715 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @11:14AM (#9041329)
      Fetal stem cell research is almost irrelevant. The Australians have extracted stem cells from baby teeth []. It gives new meaning to why the tooth fairy leaves money. Then there is the process for extracting stem cells from body fat []. Stem cell research does not need to be used as a reason for killing off unwanted pregnancies. Fetus's are not the only source of stem cells, they are just one of the first sources discovered.

      • Almost irrelevant? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Grendel Drago ( 41496 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @11:45AM (#9041685) Homepage
        Stem cell research does not need to be used as a reason for killing off unwanted pregnancies.

        When was it ever used as such? Abortions get chucked in biohazard bags and incinerated like any other sort of medical waste.

        You're living in a fantasy world if you think that Superhero Bush stopped legions of money-grubbing women who were clamoring to make a quick buck off of their abortions.

        This is a non-issue if you take the time to think about it. Trash... or valuable medical research. Trash... or valuable medical research. Tough call there.

        --grendel drago
    • Too bad Bush won't allow the U.S. to fund this fantastic, useful research because it clashes with his religious ideals.

      No, this procedure is performed using adult stem cells. Bush is only opposed to the use of embryonic stem cells in research.

      Was the parent post serious, or have I been trolled?

  • no mice yet? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, 2004 @10:25AM (#9040715)

    submission says: According to the BBC, the research has already been successfully performed on mice, and clinical trials on humans should begin within two years.

    However the story says: The company Odontis, set up by the college, hopes to develop its research for tests on humans within two years after successful research on mice.

    It doesn't sound like they've actually grown MiceTeeth(tm) yet, unless I'm reading that terribly wrong.
    • Re:no mice yet? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Otter ( 3800 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @11:26AM (#9041458) Journal
      The BBC article is awful but someone here linked to this Guardian article [] that's much better. The company seems to be much further along than their website or Sharpe's publications (minimal) would suggest.

      It also answers the first question that came to my mind -- how does a molar or incisor get specified? Apparently, the different teeth form in the same dish and are then identified and sorted before transplantation. And the stem cells come from the patient, not from fetuses, BTW.

  • by drsmack1 ( 698392 ) * on Monday May 03, 2004 @10:25AM (#9040717)
    I imagine that using this technique that they could grow a tooth anywhere, right? I got a joke in e-mail last week about vagina's with teeth - I could only get to sleep that night by dismissing it as an impossibility. Now what? I'm suffering some serious shrinkage here - tell me it isn't so... Snapping - be careful what you wish for.
  • by nebaz ( 453974 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @10:25AM (#9040718)
    The article doesn't seem to say whether or not these teeth can be grown without fetal stem cells. Expect protest if so.
  • by elleomea ( 749084 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @10:26AM (#9040736) Homepage
    What do they need a grant for, can't they just stick all the teeth they grow under their pillows?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Crest Toothening Strips. More teeth in 2 weeks, guaranteed!
  • by Richthofen80 ( 412488 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @10:31AM (#9040808) Homepage
    not the teeth part, but the technology itself.

    but the teeth market won't be the market that fuels this research. No, the market is the hair loss market. the same stem cell technology is being used to replace teeth can replace hair follicles.

    in traditional hair restoration, hair is transplanted from point A on the bottom of the scalp, where the follicles for some reason don't fall out like they do on the crown. this works, but the hair has to be spread thin, because there's only X amount you can take, and it means there's going to be missing hair from the bottom.

    what the cloned hair would do is allow an arbitrary thickness and density of placement, not limited by the donors thickness and supply at the base, since you can take a small amount from the base, clone them to the amount you want, and make a better graft.

    i can't wait, being 24 and nearly bald. fight genetics with science.
    • by Zathrus ( 232140 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @11:29AM (#9041500) Homepage
      the same stem cell technology is being used to replace teeth can replace hair follicles.

      Not necessarily. According to the Guardian piece the stem cells are taken from the patient themselves, but it doesn't say where the stem cells originate. I'm certainly not an expert in the field, but there was a really good episode of the PBS show Innovations on stem cell research recently. It talked about spinal cord repair using nerve stem cells from the nose (yes, you have nerve stem cells in your nose. No, I had no idea either.) and heart muscle repair (post heart attack) using bone marrow stem cells.

      Anyway, the deal is that not all stem cells are the same. There are differentiated ones and undifferentiated ones. The differentiated ones cannot be used to grow "any" other kind of cell -- at least, not that we've figured out yet. They have already specialized toward a kind of cell (for instance, nerve cells) and cannot grow other kinds of cells (like blood cells or muscle cells). AFAIK, most of the stem cells we still have after birth are these kind.

      The undifferentiated stem cells are pretty much the holy grail. They can (in theory) be coaxed toward creating any kind of cell you want -- blood, muscle, nerve, tooth, hair, etc. Of course, there's the issue of getting them. I think some of the stem cells in the bone marrow are undifferentiated. I'm not aware of any others elsewhere in the body. But, heck, we weren't even aware of stem cells a few decades ago and I'm certainly not a medical researcher, so I could be dead wrong here.

      All of that said -- whether or not this could be used for your balding head basically comes down to two things -- 1) are they using undifferentiated cells, 2) can we figure out and replicate the process that causes such stem cells to produce hair cells.

      And I very much disagree that the hair replacement market will be a primary funding source -- it's going to be too expensive for some time to come. Surgery, even outpatient surgery, is usually not part of hair replacement, and there's no way to get to stem cells without at least some surgery.

      I suspect most of it will come from cardiovascular and cancer research. Stem cell research is already looking extremely positive for heart attack treatment. So far every study done has given back 100% positive results. That's unheard of. And the treatment is relatively cheap to boot.

      The cancer research comes in an opposite direction. Do you know what leukemia is? Essentially the stem cells in your bone marrow going haywire. We know that stem cells can regenerate other cells, but we really don't understand how, or why they occasionally malfunction. Which is a danger with using stem cell treatments, at least in theory. But if we can figure out how stem cells actually work then we can make some major steps toward fighting cancer.

      Oh, and finally, none of this research is being done with fetal stem cells. It's all being done with the stem cells from the patient themselves. Which is a huge plus as far as rejection goes -- there simply won't be any. The only real advantage of fetal stem cell research is that there's a ton of undifferentiated stem cells in an embryo.
  • Customers (Score:3, Funny)

    by miike ( 770833 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @10:34AM (#9040846)
    After watching the icehockey world championship this week I am sure there's a demand for them.
  • Super Mice? (Score:5, Funny)

    by jetkust ( 596906 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @10:35AM (#9040854)
    According to the BBC, the research has already been successfully performed on mice, and clinical trials on humans should begin within two years.

    With all these advancements we keep performing on mice (mice with human breasts and gigantic ears. Mice that can control things with their mind and are cancer proof...Mice that produce sperm for monkeys,mice that glow in the dark, etc...), it's only a matter of time before we build a renegade breed of super-supergenius mice who become our leaders and take over the world.
    • Re:Super Mice? (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by bhima ( 46039 )
      I'm really, really sorry but it has to said:

      I, for one, can't wait for our new super-supergenius mice overlords.

      OK I feel dirty and shamed, I have to go shower.

  • by bennomatic ( 691188 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @10:35AM (#9040855) Homepage
    It's just like marijuana legalization. The people missing the most teeth tend not to vote.
  • by mcc ( 14761 ) <> on Monday May 03, 2004 @10:36AM (#9040871) Homepage
    How do the stem cells know when to *stop* growing the tooth? I mean, clearly there's something telling them when they're done but what happens if something goes wrong? What happens if you drop these things in someone's gum, and it starts growing a tooth, but the shutoff mechanism for the stem cells never activates.. so it just keeps growing.. and growing.. and growing...


    WOMAN, FRIGHTENED AND DRAWING BACK: My God... what is it??

    • How do the stem cells know when to *stop* growing the tooth?

      Via the excact same mechanism they do in every human being already, maybe?

      Oh, and human tissue that grows out of control doesn't become huge and monstrous. It becomes cancer, and kills its own flesh & blood.
  • I now have the opportunity to wear braces again. Another step forward for science AND fashion!
  • by karmatic ( 776420 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @10:40AM (#9040924)
    While the growing of teeth is certainly an interesting and useful application of this technology, I personally would like to see how they handle connecting the nerves in the new teeth to the roots in the host.

    Depending on how it's handled, it could possibly be applied to a number of other useful medical advances, such as helping repair nerve damage, prosthetic limbs, and spinal cord injuries.

    Aren't stem cells wonderful things?
    • Like all biological processes that will (should) be automatic. The simple fact that there is a tooth forming will encourage the growth of blood and nerve endings. Think about this. Before you get your teeth for the first time the plumbing is not yet wired in. Its only as the teeth start to grow that blood and nerves get wired up.
    • While the growing of teeth is certainly an interesting and useful application of this technology, I personally would like to see how they handle connecting the nerves in the new teeth to the roots in the host.

      I'm by no means an expert in the field, but I'd suspect the newly implanted tooth would be made to secrete nerve growth factors that would cause the appropriate nerves in the gums to grow and attach themselves to the tooth.
  • Yes, but... (Score:4, Funny)

    by bluenote39 ( 766441 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @10:48AM (#9041006)
    can they grow hair with stem cells? If they can do that, now THAT would be a goldmine.. fake teeth dont look as fake as fake hair.
  • I just wonder how long it'll be until we'll be able to design our own dentata. I'm more than a bit curious as to the thought of having a nice set of fang implants, but at the same time, the fact that most designer teeth are just fancy dentures is kind of a let down. A nice set of fangs, along with a real bite, would be awesome, IMNSHO.
  • Recursive (Score:2, Insightful)

    by carvalhao ( 774969 )
    First they find that you can get stem cell from teeth Now you can get teeth from stem cells... Forget abou the chicken and egg tale, this one is way cooler! :)
  • by Myself ( 57572 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @10:54AM (#9041074) Journal
    Humans already have a first and second dentition, why not simply encourage a third with hormones or something? You'd have baby teeth, teenage teeth, and over-the-hill teeth. When your third set started coming in, it would officially be time to go buy that Corvette and get a blonde bimbo for the passenger seat.

    On the subject of teeth: Dental care is good enough lately that people don't lose enough teeth to make room in the jaw for the rear molars, the "wisdom" teeth that come in later. It seems obvious to me, that we could tell in the early teens whether an individual's wisdom teeth will be in the way, and then simply prevent their growth with a squirt of botox. It would eliminate their costly and painful removal later.
  • Odd... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cryptochrome ( 303529 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @10:55AM (#9041082) Journal
    Wouldn't it make more sense to grow the teeth IN the jaw? I mean it's not like you haven't done so many times in your life. Just start the tooth bud off and implant it such that the nerves and blood vessels all attach properly. A little orthodonture and you're good as new.

    I thought somebody else was working on a way to stimulate the existing tooth buds in the jaw (you have extras) but I can't find a reference.
  • Getting new teeth (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SVDave ( 231875 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @11:02AM (#9041149)
    I recently got a couple of crowns; some 12 year-old fillings had failed, as they often do when they reach that age. I have a number of other fillings that will probably need to be replaced with crowns over the next few years.

    At first I wished that the teeth could be replaced with new ones, but then I realized something. The originals lasted 10-12 years before succumbing to decay, and the filled teeth lasted another 12 years. The crowns are made of porcelain-coated steel. They look great, are impervious to decay, and will probably last for the rest of my life. Why would I want to replace them with the troublesome things that were there before?

    • why? (Score:3, Informative)

      by ecalkin ( 468811 )
      because there is an issue with decay where the crown meets the enamal on the outside.

      and the tooth probably failed because it died (or is dying) which means that the whole tooth is at risk.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, 2004 @11:02AM (#9041152)
    1. Grow new teeth using stem cell technology.
    2. Set up office in Arkansas.
    3. PROFIT!
  • *any* organ (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @11:08AM (#9041238) Homepage Journal
    'Stem cells' can be told to create any organ if we learn how.

    Remember that in the beginning we are just a lump of stem cell goo.. and everything we have was grown from them..

  • NOOOOOO! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by billcopc ( 196330 ) <> on Monday May 03, 2004 @11:14AM (#9041318) Homepage
    I've been longing for the opposite: a complete replacement. Give me fake teeth that will never break or stain. Teeth that I can just roll down the window at the automated car wash and smile at the colored wax jets :) Teeth that can handle the abuse.

    There is nothing more annoying for me than to be constantly reminded to brush and floss and visit the wallet-raping dentist twice a year. Heck, make them snap-on so I can take them out, toss them in a polishing machine for 30 seconds and be good for the day.

    But don't go reinventing what's been broke since the dawn of time.
  • Not Bloody Likely (Score:5, Insightful)

    by milletre ( 154241 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @11:32AM (#9041547)
    IIAD (American working in England, actually), and I don't see this stuff coming into anyone's mouth for many years to come.

    The hurdles here are the same as hurdles for growing ANY tissue from stem cells. You don't just turn stem cells loose and tell them to become teeth. There is a hugely complex interaction of intra- and inter-cellular communication that goes on that tells a given cell whether to become part of the pulp, whether to start secreting enamel matrix, becoming an odontoblast, etc. If this were just five years off, we'd only be five years off from growing *hands*, etc.

    Even if we could grow *a* tooth, we would have to grow the *right* tooth, especially in the "esthetic zone". How do we make sure that it *looks* like a central incisor with 11mm of enamel showing above the gingiva? How do we make the color right? Do we just grow something that is sort of tooth-like and put a crown on it automatically? Do we grow it in vitro and implant it in a surgical site? Do we grow it in situ? If so, how do we maintain the delicate balance of cellular influences in a mouth where someone ostensibly couldn't even keep their natural teeth in order?

    I think that this is waaaaaay off in the distance. Their five year estimate is pie-in-the-sky pulled-out-of-their-ass.

    In addition ... yeah, they've grown teeth in rats, but in their intestines, IIRC (intentionally in the intestines, but it's still a far cry from functioning dentition in the mouth).
    • I don't see this stuff coming into anyone's mouth for many years to come.

      Maybe what you meant to say was "I hope I don't see this stuff coming into anyone's mouth for many years to come."

      As a dentist, you're required to be opposed to the advancement of technology. What other branch of medicine has remained in the dark ages so successfully? Your primary tools are a pointy stick and various drills.

      For fun, let's compare your work with mine. I'm a computer engineer. I work for a company that builds
  • Oh, God... (Score:5, Funny)

    by HarveyBirdman ( 627248 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @11:41AM (#9041648) Journal
    Here comes the stem cell/penis enlargement spam...

    I may just stop using email completely... :-\

  • by moojin ( 124799 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:26PM (#9042206)
    I have a porcelain cap and it blends in with the rest of my teeth very well. Why not use stem cell technology to regenerate spinal disks? I just read a Newsweek article that 65 million Americans have disk related back pain. I am among them and have not been in a good mood for the past year. If you ever injure your back and have pain in your sciatic nerve, then you'll know what I mean...

    If you don't think spinal disks are important enough either, then you are probably correct, but are growing teeth from stem cells as important as the other things we can be doing will stem cells?
  • NHL (Score:3, Funny)

    by XO ( 250276 ) < minus cat> on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:51PM (#9042516) Homepage Journal
    And, in related news, it seems that the National Hockey League Players Union has invested a quarter of a billion dollars into furthering the research into this wonderful new technology.

    (joke, but it should be real..)

  • by Phybersyk0 ( 513618 ) <phybersyko.stormdesign@org> on Monday May 03, 2004 @01:00PM (#9042611)
    I was in an accident when I was a early teen, lost 3 of my front teeth, I've been using a Partial-Plate since then (i'm 30 now).

    I've researched having implants done, it's quite expensive, and also destructive to your mouth, the process requires filing/drilling of the bone in your mouth in order to insert titanium seats that will then be built-on and capped with false teeth. As someone who's been to the dentist a lot, this prospect is not the most desirable.

    BUT, Since I've heard of the work being done with stem-cells, I've always wondered why they've not tried teeth! What's inspiring about this process is:

    • It's your OWN stem cells. Your Source-Code. No rejection.
    • It's 100% natural, The teeth will continue to behave like real teeth and will wear and change shape along with the rest in your mouth.
    • No more fooling with gooey-glop to keep your teeth in.
    • No longer afraid to smile "too big" for fear someone might notice that the some of the teeth in your grill don't quite match.
    • No fear of flying teeth when you laugh.
    • Not having to pull out your teeth when you through the metaldetector at the airport. (they got these metal wires in there)
    • Not having to excuse yourself from a restaraunt dinner table because some piece of herb is stuck between the roof of your mouth and your partial.
    • being able to taste the full-range of food flavors.
    • No more headaches (literally) caused by ill-fitting mouth-gear.
    I would gladly volunteer for this. The promise of positive results is just too great.
  • by psyconaut ( 228947 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @01:23PM (#9042885)
    Teeth are occassionally 'grown' in other areas of the body, most notably in women who have fibrous cysts. Not unusual at all to have them removed and they contain hair or teeth due to weird DNA foul-ups.


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