If the man could do what some species of animals could do, then dentists would face a problem. Because when sharks, crocodiles or rodents have damaged or worn teeth, they simply repel – and this also in adult animals. In humans, in many cases, an artificial implant or dentition is the last resort in case of permanent tooth failure. Researchers at TU Berlin have discovered an approach that could lead to new teeth in humans.
It starts with a tooth germ
" There are isolated reports that people grow teeth or complete sets of teeth for the third time. But why this happens in some people and not in others, is still largely unknown"Explains Roland Lauster of TU Berlin This circumstance is a clear indication that it may be possible to animate the human jaw to repel damaged teeth." Lauster and his team have recently discovered an interesting approach in this direction4 .
Researchers use a type of dental germ for their work. This occurs when precursor cells of the jaw accumulate and condense during the formation of second teeth. "Within the tooth bud thus formed, different types of cells differentiate: the enamel organ, the dental papilla and the dental arch. These tissues gradually differentiate into a complete toothJennifer Rosowski, who participated in the study, explains, "The tooth information to be formed comes from the tissue surrounding the jaw, but normally, tooth formation occurs only once: when replacing temporary teeth by permanent teeth.
Renewal of teeth in adults
Lauster and his team also want the jaws of adult humans to train their teeth. To do this, researchers use a trick and take from inside wisdom teeth called dental pulp cells. These are then animated with a special reverse engineering method. The result is that the cells are in a state similar to that of stem cells. By condensing in a hydrogel medium, the researchers were able to create a new dental germ that would turn into a small cell ball in 24 hours.
" We were the only group in the world to show that this independent mesenchymal condensation in a cellular ball triggers the expression of various genes and initiates the production of specific messengers. These messengers are needed to interact with the tissue surrounding the jaw"Explains Rosowski.
As part of a hands-on experiment on cell cultures, researchers were able to demonstrate that new dental systems could interact with the jaw tissue and thus allow the growth of new teeth. Other working groups following similar approaches have already successfully tested their idea in animal experiments. The proof that dental germs can develop into a healthy tooth is therefore provided. However, competition has won the seeds through the use of embryonic stem cells, the use of which is extremely controversial.
Germs of Berlin researchers do not have this problem. They are created by reprogramming the body's own cells, so that researchers can successfully avoid all legal and ethical concerns.