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FEFU scientists may have found the cell type needed to grow new teeth for patients

By Dental Tribune International
July 03, 2019

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia: Dentists and histologists from the Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU) have discovered cells that may be responsible for the human dental tissue formation. The findings of this research, conducted in collaboration with Russian and Japanese colleagues, could provide a basis for the development of bioengineering techniques aimed at growing new dental tissue.

The scientists at the Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU) took the human prenatal tissue and studied the early stage of development of the embryonic oral cavity during the fifth and the sixth week of tooth formation. They recognised several types of cells that contribute to the formation of the enamel organ, which is one of the tooth rudiments. They also identified the chromophobe cells responsible for the development of human teeth in the first weeks of embryo growth.

Dr Ivan Reva, senior researcher in the Laboratory for Cell and Molecular Neurobiology at the FEFU’s School of Biomedicine said, “Numerous attempts to grow teeth from only the stem cells involved in the development of enamel, dentin and pulp, i.e. ameloblasts and odontoblasts, were not successful: there was no enamel on the samples, teeth were covered only by defective dentin. The absence of an easily accessible source of cells for growing dental tissue seriously restricts the development of a bioengineering approach to dental treatment. To develop technologies of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, promising methods of treatment in dentistry, the cells identified by us may become the clue to the new level of quality dental treatment.”

Differentiating the natural tooth implants from the titanium implants, he added “Natural implants that are completely identical to human teeth will no doubt be better than titanium ones, and their lifespan can be longer than that of artificial ones, which are guaranteed for 10–15 years. Although for a successful experiment, we still have a lack of knowledge about intercellular signalling interactions during the teeth development”.

The researchers found the large chromophobe cells residing not only where the teeth of the embryo form but also at the border, where the epithelium of the oral cavity passes into the epithelium of the developing digestive tube. This finding suggests that the new bioengineering approach might be applicable not only in dentistry for growing new dental tissue but also in gastroenterology for growing organs for subsequent transplantation.

At this stage, it has yet to be ascertained as to how different types and forms of teeth develop, in the earliest stages of human embryo development, from the seemingly homogeneous and multilayered ectoderm that is located in the forming oral cavity. However, this study has made it clear that more types of cells are involved in the earliest stages of human tooth formation than it was previously assumed.

The study, titled “Embryonic development of human teeth”, was published in the March 2019 issue of the International Journal of Applied and Fundamental Research and is only available in Russian.

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