Japanese scientists said Friday they had derived stem cells from wisdom teeth, opening another way to study deadly diseases without the ethical controversy of using embryos.
Researchers at the government-backed National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology said they created stem cells of the type found in human embryos using the removed wisdom teeth of a 10-year-old girl.
"This is significant in two ways," team leader Hajime Ogushi told AFP. "One is that we can avoid the ethical issues of stem cells because wisdom teeth are destined to be thrown away anyway.
"Also, we used teeth that had been extracted three years ago and had been preserved in a freezer. That means that it's easy for us to stock this source of stem cells."
The announcement follows the groundbreaking discovery by US and Japanese scientists last year that they could produce stem cells from skin, a finding that was hailed by the Vatican and US President George W. Bush.
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