Researchers in New York have successfully generated new tooth roots and supporting ligaments in pigs, using human adult stem cells taken from extracted wisdom teeth, in the latest successful research using non-embryonic stem cells.
The regenerated tooth was used to support a crown restoration in miniature pigs, Reuters reported. The tooth exhibited the same functional and strength characteristics of the original tooth.
Research team member Dr. Songtao Shi said: "In this study, we use stem cell technology to generate 'a bio-root and periodontal tissue' along with dental clinical porcelain crown technique to restore tooth function in swine (mini-pig)."
Shi, from the University of Southern California School of Dentistry, Los Angeles, added. "This is a hybridized approach (stem cell and clinical technologies) leading to reconstruction of functional tooth in an animal model similar to human."
The therapy could be tested on human subjects within the next few years. If successful, the technique could provide an alternative treatment for dental patients unable to receive traditional tooth implants.
"Implant patients must have sufficient bone in the jaw to support the implant. For those who don't, this therapy would be a great alternative," Shi said in a statement.