Researchers have also discussed the possibility of using generated teeth as replacements for inlays and synthetic implants.
But Tsuji acknowledged that there's a potential hitch on the road to generation of teeth in humans: Scientists have not found the cells in humans that are needed to start the tooth-generation process. This means they're further along with mice.
Even so, it might eventually be possible to use a person's own cells instead of using cells from embryos, Tsuji said.
What this might cost is unknown.
As for the future, "many researchers hope our study will be adaptable to a wide variety of organs," Tsuji said.
The challenge for scientists will be to figure out how to generate organs that make enough connections to the body to function properly.
The Pittsburgh Tissue Engineering Initiative has more on tissue regeneration.
SOURCES: Fei Liu, M.D., Ph.D., researcher and assistant professor, molecular and cellular medicine, Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, Temple, Texas; Louis J. Elsas, M.D., interim chairman, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami; Takashi Tsuji, Ph.D., researcher, Department of Biological Science and Technology, Tokyo University of Science, Tokyo; Aug. 3-7, 2009, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, online
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