Urine Grown Teeth: Chinese Scientists Grow Human Tooth Using Stem Cells Sourced From Pee [REPORT]

By Philip Ross on July 30, 2013 12:59 PM EDT

urine grown teeth
Urine grown teeth, made from stem cells cultured from human pee, were developed in a laboratory in China. (Photo: Reuters)

Urine grown teeth could be coming to a cosmetic surgeon's office near you -- well, not really. But scientists in China have discovered a way to grow human teeth -- or, at least, something that resembles a human tooth -- using stem cells harvested from pee. The team of researchers from Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health pulled stem cells from human pee and mixed it with material from a mouse to make urine grown teeth.

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"The tooth-like structure contained dental pulp, dentin, enamel space and enamel organ," the scientists who made the urine grown teeth noted.

Could this discovery of urine grown teeth lead to, borrowing from the words of the Chinese researchers, "the final dream of total regeneration of human teeth for clinical therapy?"

Other scientists say it's not likely.

"It is probably one of the worst sources" of stem cells, Prof. Chris Mason, a stem cell scientist at University College London, told BBC. "There are very few cells [in urine] in the first place and the efficiency of turning them into stem cells is very low. You just wouldn't do it in this way."

Stem cells are unspecialized cells able to regenerate through cell division. They have the remarkable ability to develop into many different cell types in the body, and also serve as the body's internal repair system. Most importantly, under certain conditions, stem cells can be made to become tissue or organ cells.

"In the 3- to 5-day-old embryo...the inner cells give rise to the entire body of the organism, including all of the many specialized cell types and organs such as the heart, lung, skin, sperm, eggs and other tissues," the U.S. National Institutes of Health reports. "In some adult tissues, such as bone marrow, muscle, and brain, discrete populations of adult stem cells generate replacements for cells that are lost through normal wear and tear, injury, or disease."

Scientists discovered how to derive embryonic stem cells from mice over 30 years ago, in 1981. By 1998, scientists were able to derive stem cells from human embryos and harvest them in a lab.

While the prospect of urine grown teeth is exciting, it's still too soon to tell whether or not stem cells harvested from human pee are a viable option in harvesting replacement body tissues.

Read more from iScience Times:

Stem Cell Discovery: New Research Could Help Humans Regrow Fingers [STUDY]

'Laboratory-Grown' Kidney Transplanted In Rat, Produces Real Urine: Will The Breakthrough Save Thousands Of Patients?

Hairy Eyeball Tumor: How Does Hair Grow On An Eye? [PHOTO]

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