Researchers from the Institute of Biotechnology at the University of Helsinki has developed a computer model capable of reproducing variation in complex organic structures like teeth and other organs.The research is a big step toward the possibility of growing correctly shaped teeth and other organs. The results were published in the science journal, Nature.
Led by Academy Professor Jukka Jernvall and his research team, over 15 years of work has been conducted compiling data on the primary characteristics for a formula for making teeth. The model they have constructed shows that the regulation of mammal teeth is already well-known. Teeth are also a model that Jernvall’s team intends to use to study the development of other organs.
According to a mathematical computer model, a rather basic formula seems to be behind the complex gene puzzle resulting in tooth formations; the web of gene pathways has a 'patterning kernel' that regulates the variation of teeth among individuals in the same population. Also researchers believe that a single factor regulating cell division may determine the variation of human teeth from the incisors to the molar teeth.
The researchers tested their theoretical model, which is based on mouse tooth development, by examining seal teeth. The Ladoga ringed seal collection of the Finnish Museum of Natural History at the University of Helsinki provided an ideal population sample for the research because dentitions are highly variable. New teeth and organs?
The mathematical model proposed by the research team offers a new kind of understanding on the formation of organisms' three-dimensional shapes: How do different levels of ontogeny function together? What factors are responsible for the emergence of specific external features? The new research results may lead to research in new specialty fields like laboratory organ growth. Jernvall is known as an international pioneer in cross-disciplinary evolutionary development biology. A few years ago, the science journal Nature chose a teeth evolution work conducted by Jernvall and two post-doc researchers as one of the 15 educational topics in the field of evolutionary biology. The research published now was conducted with Jernvall's third post-doc researcher, Isaac Salazar-Ciudad. Salazar-Ciudad currently works at the Autonomous
University of Barcelona in Spain. Source: Helsingin yliopisto (University of Helsinki)