Science & Tech

Regrowing missing teeth may someday be possibility

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Regrowing missing teeth may someday be a possibility, based on work by a team of scientists at the Forsyth Institute, an independent, Harvard-affiliated research organization specializing in oral and craniofacial biology. Pamela Yelick, an assistant staff member at the Forsyth Institute and an instructor in oral and developmental biology at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, says that the research she and her colleagues have carried out should result in a clinical product in about 15 years. “Or maybe sooner. That’s probably a pretty conservative estimate,” Yelick said. The successful tissue engineering experiment was reported in an article by Yelick and her colleagues in the Oct. 1, 2002, issue of the Journal of Dental Research. What Yelick and her co-workers, John Bartlett and Conan Young, have accomplished is to use tissue engineering processes to produce the first ever complex tooth crowns. Although they had reason to believe the experiment would be successful, the results were better than they anticipated. “That first tooth was a wonderful discovery, a revelation,” said Young, instructor in oral and developmental biology. “The most surprising thing was that we got enamel.”