Urine could be used as a source of stem cells that could be grown into tiny tooth-like structures showed the results, published in Cell Regeneration Journal.

The team from China hopes that the technique could be developed into a way of replacing lost teeth.

Other stem cell researchers warn that that goal faces many challenges.

Researchers around the globe are looking for ways of growing new teeth to replace those lost with age and poor dental hygiene.

Stem cells are the master cells that can grow into any type of tissue – are a popular area of research.

The group at the Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health used urine as the starting point.
The cells that normally passed from the body, such as those from the urine, are harvested in the laboratory. These collected cells are then coaxed into becoming stem cells.

Then a mix of these cells along with other material from a mouse was implanted into the animals.
The researchers said that after three weeks the bundle of cells started to resemble a tooth: “The tooth-like structure contained dental pulp, dentin, enamel space and enamel organ.”

However it couldn’t compete with the natural teeth in on the basis of hardness.

Prof Chris Mason, a stem cell scientist at University College London, said urine was a poor option to start with.

“It is probably one of the worst sources, there are very few cells in the first place and the efficiency of turning them into stem cells is very low.
“You just wouldn’t do it in this way.”

He further warned that the risk of contamination, such as through bacteria, was much higher than with other sources of cells.

“The big challenge here is the teeth have got a pulp with nerve and blood vessels which have to make sure they integrate to get permanent teeth” said Prof Mason.

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