Columbia University

Technology Ventures

Mass production of dental tissues

Technology #2820

Lead Inventor: Jeremy J. Mao, Ph.D.

A novel cell culture system for the mass production of dental material such as enamel and dentin, from progenitor cells to yield immunologically compatible materials for dental restoration.

Dental restoration currently relies on the use of synthetic materials such as amalgam and composites to replace all or parts of teeth. However, the use of these materials is not always compatible with the human immune system and can be toxic. The use of naturally occurring components during tooth formation, such as dentin and enamel would be ideal material to use during dental restoration to avoid these problems. However, mass production of these materials has not yet been feasible due to the small amounts generated with existing technologies. This novel cell culture system in which epithelial cells and mesenchymal cells are grown together in mineral-stimulating conditions leads to more robust mineralization as compared to standard culturing approaches. This technology has the potential to be used for the mass-production of enamel, dentin, and cementum for use during dental restoration.

Mass production of the natural components of the tooth using this novel culturing system allows for the creation and use of safer and more compatible materials in dental restoration.

Robust mineralization was observed during conditions in which epithelial cells comprising of ameloblasts (producers of enamel) and mesenchymal cells comprising of osteoblasts/odontoblasts (producers of dentin) were grown together (co-culture) in mineral stimulating media. The ameloblasts and osteoblast/odontoblasts co-culture was stained with a dye to confirm the presence of mineral deposition. Also, the expression of multiple genes required for dental tissue and bone formation were expressed in this cell system. These observations were not seen when ameloblasts or osteoblasts/odontoblasts were grown separately or grown together in non-mineral stimulating growth media.

Applications:
– Mass production of naturally occurring substances in teeth can be used as materials for dental restoration, such as in implants, bridges, crowns and fillings.
– Potential for use in regenerating bone and joints since these are also mineralized tissues.
– Cell system can be combined with biological scaffolds for easy delivery into the body.

Advantages:
– Current options for treating the complete or partial loss of a tooth involve the use of synthetic materials such as amalgam or composites. This technology represents a way to treat tooth loss without the addition of foreign material into the body, which can be toxic or immunologically incompatible.
– This cell culturing system provides a higher yield of mineralization as compared to conventional methods of culturing making mass production of dental tissues possible.

Patent information: Patent issued: WO/2012/045097 ~ see link below.

Licensing Status: Available for licensing and sponsored research support

Related Publications:
– S Yildirim, SY Fu, K Kim, H Zhou, CH Lee, A Li, SG Kim, S Wang, JJ Mao. Tooth regeneration: a revolution in stomatology and evolution in regenerative medicine. Int J Oral Sci. Volume 3, Issue 3, Jul. 2011, pp. 107-116.
– Z Yuan, H Nie, S Wang, CH Lee, A Li, SY Fu, H Zhou, L Chen, JJ Mao. Biomaterial selection for tooth regeneration. Tissue Eng Part B Rev. Volume 17, Issue 5, Oct. 2011, pp. 373-388.