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Dental Enamel Grown From Cultured Cells

New method might help repair damaged teeth or even regenerate new ones

FRIDAY, March 23, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- A Japanese team says they've used cultured cells to grow new tooth enamel.

The breakthrough should boost efforts to produce tissue that can replace damaged or missing enamel, and possibly, even regenerate whole teeth, the researchers say.

Tooth enamel is unable to regenerate because it's formed by a layer of cells that are lost by the time the tooth appears in the mouth. That means that wear, damage and decay take a toll on enamel over the years.

A team at the Institute of Medical Science at the University of Tokyo created a new technique of culturing cells with the capacity to produce enamel.

They found that epithelial cells taken from the developing teeth of six-month-old pigs continued to proliferate when the cells were cultured on top of special "feeder" layers of cells.

The scientists placed the dental epithelial cells, along with cells from the middle of the tooth (dental mesenchymal cells) on miniature collagen sponge scaffolds. The scaffolds were then placed in the abdominal cavities of rats, which provided a favorable environment for the dental cells to interact and develop.

After four weeks, enamel-like tissue formed on the scaffolds.

A report on the technique was expected to be presented March 23 at a meeting of the International Association for Dental Research.

More information

The Columbia University Medical Center's School of Dental and Oral Surgery explains tooth abrasion and erosion.

SOURCE: International & American Association for Dental Research, news release, March 23, 2007
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