Tokyo: Japanese researchers have successfully developed artificial teeth that they say could replace the natural teeth in mice and eventually help with similar procedures in humans.
In the technique, researchers developed the artificial teeth from a single cell implanted into the mouths of adult mice and said this could help replace missing teeth in humans, reported the online edition of Australia's The Daily Telegraph.
Writing in the journal Nature Methods, Takashi Tsuji and other researchers at the Tokyo University of Science described how they took two kinds of cells -- mesenchymal and epithelial cells -- that develop them into a tooth.
They first grew each cell-type separately to make larger numbers of them and then injected them into a sticky protein called collagen. The tooth germ grew into a tiny tooth, about 1.3 mm long.
The researchers then extracted the incisor from an eight-week-old adult mouse and inserted the bio-engineered tooth.
After two weeks, the transplant was found to be growing perfectly, with root, enamel, dental pulp, bone, blood vessel -- in the same composition and structure as a normal tooth.
Tsuji hopes his method - described as world first - could eventually be applied more widely. "We hope to collaborate with dentists and clinicians in various fields to develop artificial organs for people," he said.