Urine teeth are entirely possible, according to a team of researchers based in China.
The BBC first reported on the finding Monday after an article published in Cell Regeneration Journal revealed that human urine could be the next big development in dental health.
(Before filing this one away as a future “Go Home, Science, you’re drunk” Internet meme, hear us out.)
By using urine as a jumping off point, scientists at the Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health were able to coax out stem cells, which then formed into small tooth-like structures.
Cells from the lining of the body’s waterworks, were lab-harvested and mixed with other materials taken from the lab mice and then implanted back into the animals.
After three weeks, the cell cluster began resembling a tooth, which contained “dental pulp, dentin, enamel space and enamel organ,” researchers said.
Stem cells, if you’re not already in the know, are master cells capable of growing into any type of tissue. They have been both a popular and controversial form of research, particularly in the US where the stem cell creation process has been linked with harvesting unborn fetuses by opponents.
Researchers at Guangzhou believe urine teeth will be an effective way to replace lost teeth and fight the tide of poor dental hygiene throughout the world. Other scientists are (understandably) skeptical.
Take Chris Mason, a stem cell scientist and professor at University College London, who called human urine “a poor starting point” in comments to the BBC.
“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,” Mason said. “You just wouldn’t do it in this way.”
Mason issued concerns about contamination risk through contact with bacteria, adding, “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.”
(And here we thought it was the idea of having a mouthful of pee.)
While the concept of urine teeth is certainly a strange one, it’s not the first time in recent weeks that the waste product has proven effective in more ways than relief after a heavy night of drinking, telling us that this guy may be on to something.
But what about urine teeth? Would you be okay with a few of those in your head?
[Image via ShutterStock]