Medical Teeth growing inside tumors?

  1. Q_Goest

    Q_Goest 2,989
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    A case just came out regarding a 4 month old infant who had a rare brain tumor (benign) that actually had three teeth growing in it as reported by the New England Journal of Medicine. A good layman's summary of the article can be found here:


    I see that other tumors can do the same thing. Here's another link showing a 1600 year old corpse that had teeth growing in a tumor inside this woman's pelvis.

    I wonder why teeth would form as part of a brain tumor? Or any tumor for that matter. Any idea how cells could start turning into teeth in the middle of a tumor? Is some part of the DNA 'switched on' that starts producing teeth? Are other body parts ever found inside tumors such as bones, toe-nails, eyeballs ??? I wonder if this is telling us something about tumors we don't understand yet.
  2. jcsd
  3. Ryan_m_b

    Staff: Mentor

    Quick post on the run but this phenomen occurs specifically inside teratomas and can produce many malformed tissue types due to the presence of all three germ layers.
  4. strangerep

    strangerep 2,292
    Science Advisor

    OMG! :yuck:

    It says there can even be a fetus inside a teratoma. :bugeye:
  5. Now you know what one of the major problems of stem cell therapies is.
  6. I would like to know if teratoma tumor can be cultivated in vitro. In this case it can be used as a placenta for growing human organs, e.g. tooth germs or germs of other organs which then can be transplanted to a patient.
  7. I found this stuff disgusting too when I heard about it the first time. The name teratoma is actually derived from the Greek word teras, which means "monster".
  8. Borek

    Staff: Mentor

    Makes me think about an old thread about vagina dentata.
  9. Ryan_m_b

    Staff: Mentor

    Avoiding teratomas is actually a big part of regenerative medicine research. They're tumours that grow into all sorts of disorganised tissue, occasionally producing something that resembles properly formed tissues from around the body. There is a lot of promise if we could control differentiation and tissue formation but doing it inside a tumour would make it a lot harder to control what is happening.
  10. In the case reported above the tumor contained fully grown teeth, not something just resembling teeth. My conjecture is that this particular tumor or its cells cultivated in viro could act as inductors causing tooth producing genes to be expressed. Please, could I expect that this tumor is stored somewhere and could I get its cells by mail.
  11. Borek

    Staff: Mentor

    In academia when something was published, you can contact authors. That's what people do in such cases.
  12. The article says that this was a adamantinomatous craniopharyngioma.
    There was another article that I read last week that said it was unlikely that this was a teratoma - and that's what makes it interesting.

    Not surprisingly, the mass that was removed was preserved for study.
  13. Ryan_m_b

    Staff: Mentor

    Clearly the cells are releasing odontogenic factors however there is still a question of how well organised the tissue is. As for culture in vivo if it were easy regenerative medicine would have been solved long ago. You simply cant grow somethings in a bioreactor the same way they grow in the body, not yet anyway. Aside from that it is more desirable to have cells we can control and characterise rather than those that are cancerous.

    As for getting cells you may be able to contact the author if they managed to culture anything but to be frank what experience and facilities do you have to conduct this sort of work? It is extremely unlikely you will be sent a sample unless you are a member of an institution and represent a biology lab group. If you do have that then what would you plan on doing exactly with the sample? How would you culture and characterise it?

    Amantinomatous craniopharyngiomas are derived from embryonic tissue so will be similar to a teratoma. ACs are known to produce odontogenic factors so the discovery of one with a mostly formed tooth (as opposed to a odontogenic cyst) isn't too surprising.

    This paper details some of the factors released by ACs
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