Grow a new set of teeth at 60!

There may be new hope for adults who lose their teeth -the possibility of growing replacement teeth out of stem cells, British scientists say.

Reports from Britain yesterday say that scientists at the Dental Institute of King's College in London have successfully used the procedure in experiments with mice.

"There's no reason why it shouldn't work in humans, the principles are the same," told Professor Paul Sharpe. "Anyone who has lost teeth will tell you that, given the chance, they would rather have their own teeth than false ones," he said.

The scientists have been awarded the equivalent of $1.2-million Canadian in research funding to set up a company, Odontis, that would develop the use of the procedure on humans.

Prof. Sharpe said the technology may be just a few short years away from becoming a reality.

Stem cells - the so-called master cells of the body - eventually turn into many different kinds of other cells, including specialized cells that make up the muscles and organs.

In the procedures, small balls of stem cells programmed to turn into teeth would be implanted into gaps in a person's mouth. It is estimated they would take up to two months to grow into a full tooth, reports

According to fake teeth, denture glue and sucking on bald gums may soon become a thing of the past, say a group of British scientists working on a procedure that makes teeth grow from stem cells implanted in the gum.

The scientists at King's College, London announced Monday they had made a breakthrough in mice, coaxing stem cells to grow into teeth within only a few weeks. If proven successful, the procedure could be a boon for Britain, where people over 50 lose on average 12 of their 32 teeth.

Sharpe says the procedure could have advantages over false teeth that require a metal post to be driven into the jaw.

"That surgery can be extensive and you need to have good solid bone in the jaw and that's a major problem for some people," said Sharpe.

"The new method could be used on far more patients because the ball of cells that grows into a tooth also produces bone that anchors to the jaw."

In what is expected to be a simple procedure, the new method will require only a local anaesthetic.

The cost of growing a real tooth should also be no more than that of a synthetic implant, between 1,500 and 2,000 pounds (2,226-2,969 euros, 2,657-3,544 dollars).

But gap-toothed Britons will have to wait to fill their smile.

The optimistic scientists say they hope to make the technology available to the general public within five years.

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