A team of researchers from the Nippon Dental University in Japan have discovered that bad breath can help teeth stem cells to change to liver cells.
Apparently hydrogen sulphide, a colourless gas that smells like rotten eggs, does the trick. The gas, the scientists say, is produced in small quantities within our bodies. it is also manufactured by bacteria and, in large quantities, is toxic.
The researchers took stem cells from dental pulp - the central part of the tooth that is made of connective tissue and cells. These were analysed after a few days and it was discovered that exposure to the gas had turned the cells into liver cells. The scientists later confirmed that the gas increased the purity and proportion of stem cells, when certain other chemicals were added.
"High purity means there are less 'wrong cells' that are being differentiated to other tissues, or remaining as stem cells. Moreover, these facts suggest that patients undergoing transplantation with the hepatic (liver) cells may have almost no possibility of developing teratomas (tumours) or cancers," Dr Ken Yaegaki, from the Nippon Dental University in Japan told the Press Association.
"Until now, nobody has produced the protocol to regenerate such a huge number of hepatic cells for human transplantation. Compared to the traditional method of using fetal bovine serum to produce the cells, our method is productive and, most importantly, safe," he added.