A team of researchers at the Institute of Biotechnology of the University of Helsinki has developed a computer model reproducing population-level variation in complex structures like teeth and organs. The research takes a step towards the growing of correctly shaped teeth and other organs. The results were published last week in Nature, the esteemed science journal.
After over 15 years of work, the team has compiled so much data that the main aspects of a formula for making teeth are beginning to be clear. The model shows that regulation of tooth development is already well known. Teeth are a kind of "model species" for Jernvall's team, which means that the study results also tell about the development of other organs.
The mathematical model proposed by the research team may give new kind of understanding on the formation of organisms' three-dimensional shapes: How do different levels of ontogeny function together? What factors guide the emergence of specific external features? The new research results may promote medical research, such as growing new organs.