A new technique allows the body’s own stem cells to be orchestrated toregenerate teeth. Using a process called cell homing, Jeremy Mao, DDS,PhD (pictured), professor of dental medicine at Columbia University, has migratedstem cells to a 3D scaffold infused with growth factor that holds thetranslational potential to yield an anatomically correct tooth in aslittle as 9 weeks once implanted. The study was published in the Journal of DentalResearch.

An animal-model study showed that homing stem cells to a scaffold madeof natural materials and integrated in surrounding tissue obviated theneed to use harvested stem cell lines, or to create an environmentoutside of the body where the tooth is grown and then implanted once ithas matured. Instead, the tooth can be grown "orthotopically," or in thesocket, so that the tooth will integrate with surrounding tissue inways that are impossible with traditional implant materials.

"A key consideration in tooth regeneration is finding a cost-effectiveapproach that can translate into therapies for patients who cannotafford or who aren’t good candidates for dental implants," Mao says."Cell-homing-based tooth regeneration may provide a tangible pathwaytoward clinical translation."