Science is a world of never-ending wonder. Each day, scientists are making fascinating inroads into fighting diseases. They are also discovering new techniques which, when put into place, will make certain processes more efficient. The mind can wander in so many directions, thinking about what could be just around the corner.
Many people lose teeth prematurely, either through poor dental care or force of nature. The problem with losing a tooth is that there is no easy way to replace it. It can cost a small fortune to have a crown or dental implant made. With today’s difficult economic situation, who can afford that kind of expense?
That is why the current news coming out of China is quite interesting. Chinese researchers have been able to grow a tooth-like structure from harvested stem cells. But there is one catch. Those stem cells scientists harvested come from a source that many might find distasteful—the stem cells were pulled out of human urine!
This research has been going on for a while now and seems to be making remarkable strides. This group of Chinese researchers has been able to take stem cells from the urine, and successfully grow organs and teeth. In the case of the tooth, the stem cells were combined with other cells from a mouse. The mixture was then planted into the mouse’s mouth, where a tooth began to emerge.
Is this replication science perfected? Not by a long shot, at least not yet.
This initial testing has been done on mice, and there have been some issues. The teeth that have developed are not as hard as the human tooth. That leaves questions as to how they would hold up in a person’s mouth. The researchers do not seem concerned about it. They feel the weakness is a side effect of the combining of the human and mouse cells. The researchers believe when they substitute human mesenchymal stem cells, along with other changes, the teeth will be just as strong as a normal tooth.
Should their theories come to pass, two important changes could be in the offing. First, the dental industry could be changed immensely. Imagine how the cost of procedures like crowns and dental implants would go down. There would also be a lot less pain as things such as bone grafts in the jaw might not be needed.
The other area affected would be the stem cell industry itself. At present, stem cell research is an essential tool, but many are not happy with how harvesting is accomplished. Pro-life groups want no part of stem cells being taken from aborted fetuses. Should this research prove correct, there would be no need to use the unborn. Humans have an unending stream of urine, which should always be readily available.
This organ growth from urine could also end one other type of heartache. Far too often, organ transplant patients get their replacement part, only to have their body reject it. With this latest revelation, the chances of that would be minimal. That is because the stem cells are coming from the host, not from another person who cannot be sure they will be a complete match. Science shows every day that anything is possible. This tooth from urine stem cells just goes to prove that.