If you’ve got a spare embryonic stem cells hanging around, there’s probably someone out there who can do something revolutionary with it. The problem, of course, is that some people don’t consider embryonic stem cells to be the most ethical choice of research materials. And since this isn’t a soapbox for political debate, I’ll refrain from calling those people total dumb-dumbs.
The latest awe-inspiring achievement comes courtesy of Paul Sharpe, stem cell biologist at King’s College London, who managed to grow teeth out of a combination of adult human and embryonic mouse cells. This amazing study was published in the most recent Journal of Dental Research, and leaves one of the most disturbing images chewed into the mind.
In his lab, Sharpe cultured epithelial cells from the gums of adult humans and mixed them with mesenchymal tooth cells extracted from embryonic mice. A week later, the mixture was injected into the protective tissue surrounding the kidneys of living mice. Some of the cells indeed developed dentine and enamel and became little human/mouse tooth hybrids.
Teeth growing out your kidneys sounds like the subject matter for a David Cronenberg educational film. Since we now know the gums are suitable sources for clinical trials, the research, a long way from becoming an everyday reality, needs to advance to the point where adult human mesenchymal cells can be used, removing mice and embryonic stem cells from the process altogether. Take that, people who think unborn things are more important than the living.
Image via Wiki Commons: Dozenist