Peeth: Growing teeth from urine-harvested stem cells

Chinese scientists develop a method for growing new teeth from stem cells generated from urine.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
Model of teeth
This model of teeth shows just how many everyone has to potentially lose. Håkan Svensson

People lose teeth for all sorts of reasons, whether it's through neglect, age, or sports injuries. A team of Chinese scientists from the Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health is working on an unusual way to replace those missing chompers.

The researchers derived stem cells from urine as a starting point. The experiment involved combining those stem cells with material from mice. Implanting it back into mice resulted in the growth of what looks like little teeth.

"The tooth-like structure contained dental pulp, dentin, enamel space, and enamel organ," the researchers reported.

If you're a fan of science paper titles, this is a good one: "Generation of tooth-like structures from integration-free human urine induced pluripotent stem cells." The research was published in Cell Regeneration.

The results are rudimentary at this point. The harvested teeth are not as strong as regular teeth, but the scientists are hopeful that the work could one day lead to "the final dream of total regeneration of human teeth for clinical therapy."

It's conceivable people in the future could receive implants that allow them to grow new teeth. There just might be some concern over using urine to get there.

Teeth-like structures
Teeth structures generated from stem cells and mouse materials. Screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

(Via Annals of Improbable Research)