A team of scientists have created enamel-growing organoids which could help to restore and regrow damaged teeth.
Led by scientists from the University of Washington School of Dentistry, the study created stem-cell-based organoids that secrete the proteins that form dental enamel.
The research team now hopes to make an enamel as durable as that found in natural teeth, and to use this enamel to restore teeth. This could entail creating the enamel in a laboratory and using it to fill cavities, or even creating living fillings to grow into and repair cavities.
Hai Zhang, professor of restorative dentistry and one of the co-authors of the study, called this a ‘critical first step’ in the development of stem-cell-based treatments to regenerate and repair damaged teeth.
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Hannele Ruohola-Baker, professor of biochemistry and associate director of the UW Medicine Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine, headed the project.
She said: ‘Many of the organs we would like to be able to replace, like human pancreas, kidney, and brain, are large and complex. Regenerating them safely from stem cells will take time.
‘Teeth on the other hand are much smaller and less complex. They’re perhaps the low-hanging fruit. It may take a while before we can regenerate them, but we can now see the steps we need to get there.’
‘This may finally be the “century of living fillings” and human regenerative dentistry in general.’
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