We’re taught from an early age that our teeth are important and that we should look after them. Sometimes, however, something goes wrong, and we lose teeth. How can they be replaced? What about growing some new ones? Researchers have successfully grown tooth-like structures (left) in ‘artificial gums’ (right) using induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) – mature cells that have been ‘reprogrammed’ to become stem cells that can then be used to generate new tissues. What’s more, these iPSCs came from humans, and so new teeth could potentially be grown from the cells of the person who needs them. In fact the source of these particular iPSCs was urine. They’re derived from sloughed bladder cells – a normal component of our everyday waste disposal – which puts a whole new slant on the wisdom of recycling.
Written by Robin Hersom
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.