Ok, here's the 30,000-ft view, ick factor and all.....human urine may be a source for regenerating teeth.
And here's the serious stuff: This week in the online journal Cell Regeneration, Chinese researchers describe how stem cells derived from urine could be used to generate solid organs and tissues, including teeth customized for individual patients.
Previous research has shown that cells discarded with urea can become induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) that can then generate many different cell types, including neurons and heart muscle cells. The research team, representing several Chinese universities, have developed a novel chimeric tissue culture system that can coax these iPSCs into tiny structures that resemble teeth. After some processing and combining with other cells, the iPSCs became ifhU-iPSCs (integration-free human-urine-induced pluripotent stem cells) and were transplanted into mice, and within 3 weeks, formations had grown that resembled teeth both physically and structurally--similar elasticity and containing pulp, dentin, and enamel forming cells.
And, here's the caveat: Though these structures are a breakthrough, the method involves mouse cells, has a success rate of just 30%, and the structures are only about 1/3 as hard as human teeth. But researchers are already developing ways to correct these challenges. Bottom line is, ifhU-iPSCs remain a tremendous source of hope for regenerative medicine becuase they avoid the controversial use of embryos--and they're derived from a more readily accessible and unlimited source.
Can't wait for the next installment.