Whole Teeth Grown From Mouse Stem Cells


This handout picture taken in 2010 and released to Reuters on July 12, 2011 shows
a bioengineered tooth unit grown by researchers at Tokyo University of Science, using mouse stem cells.
REUTERS/Dr. Takashi Tsuji/Tokyo University of Science/Handout

Here’s something to nosh on– a team of Japanese researchers led by Professor Takashi Tsuji from Tokyo University of Science have constructed teeth out of mouse stem cells and successfully transplanted them into mice!

The team removed two varieties of stem cells from the molar teeth of mice and placed them in a mold to grow in the laboratory, thus controlling its formation – the shape and length of the teeth. Afterwards, the whole tooth units were transplanted into the lower jaws of one-month-old mice. On average, it took 40 days for the transplanted teeth to fuse with the mice’s jaw bones and tissues. Able to detect even the nerve fibers growing in the new teeth, the scientists were able to conduct a very thorough study.

The outcome: The mice with the regenerated teeth were able to eat and chew normally with no complications.

“The bioengineered teeth were fully functional… there was no trouble (with) biting and eating food after transplantation,” writes Masamitsu Oshima, assistant professor at the Research Institute for Science and Technology, Tokyo University of Science.

natural tooth occlusion.jpg

Oral photographs (upper) and micro-CT (lower) images showing occlusion of natural (left) and bioengineered teeth (right).
Image credit: PLoS ONE 6(7): e21531. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0021531

The researchers hope that this step will contribute in the development of new human organs grown from a patient’s own cells.

“It is important to develop technologies for the culture of the bioengineered organ… for the realization of future organ replacement regenerative therapy,” Professor Takashi Tsuji wrote in his reply to questions from Reuters.

Reminiscing about the 2010 US research that led to the construction of an artificial lung that allowed lab rats to breathe for several hours, Tsuji emphasized the necessity of locating the right “seed cells” for reparative therapy. In this case, entire tooth units could be grown because the stem cells were taken from molar teeth of mice, where they later grew into enamel, dental bones and other parts that comprised a regular tooth unit.


Lyn, Tan Ee. “Experts Grow Whole Tooth Units Using Mouse Stem Cells.” Reuters. Thomson Reuters, 12 July 2011. Web. 20 July 2011.

Braconnier, Deborah. “Stem Cells Grow Fully Functional New Teeth.” Medical XPress. Medical Xpress, 13 July 2011. Web. 20 July 2011.

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