“Research is still mostly in the experimental (preclinical) phase,” said Ben Scheven, senior lecturer in oral cell biology in the school of dentistry at the University of Birmingham. Still, he told CNN, “dental stem cells may provide an advantageous cell therapy for repair and regeneration of tissues,” someday becoming the basis for reconstructing bone tissue, retinas and even optic neurons. This theory is leading to more and more “tooth banking” with the hopes that these amazingly versatile dental stem cells will be of use in the future when science catches up.
Adult stem cells were discovered in the pulp of wisdom teeth and baby teeth in the year 2000. These Dental Pulp Stem Cells (DPSCs) are adult stem cells know as “mesenchymal stem cells” and have the ability to differentiate into bone, dental tissue, cartilage, muscle, neural and other cell types. DPSCs are currently being researched so they can play a part in the fields of regenerative medicine and dentistry.
Dental stem cells are multipotent which means they have the ability to self-renew by dividing. They can also develop into a more specialized cell type that is found in a certain organ or tissue.
Following the discovery of DPSCs, in 2014, researchers discovered that nervous system cells could transform back into stem cells inside teeth. Glial cells are an integral part of the neurons that travel in the mouth and gums transmitting pain signals from your teeth to the brain. These glial cells have been studied by researchers for years, but recently they added fluorescent labels to a set of glial cells in mice, and the result was proof that some glial cells travel away from neurons in the gums into the teeth where they then transformed into mesenchymal stem cells. Eventually, the same cells matured into tooth cells, the research team reported in Nature.
The results of this experiment were dramatic. Before, it was believed that nervous system cells could not transform back to a flexible stem cell state. But in this experiment, the glial cells reverted back into stem cells.
Now researchers are working to discover the chemical cues that trigger the glial cells to change back into mesenchymal stem cells. If they succeed in finding this cue, they could have a new way to grow stem cells in the lab.
Not only do stem cells offer another non-embryonic stem cell treatment option, but they also offer some of the most powerful options in stem cell science. “Stem cells from teeth have been observed in research studies to be among the most powerful stem cells in the human body.” says Stem Save. One of the reasons dental stem cells are recognized as being more powerful is because they have been shown to reproduce more quickly and for a longer duration than stem cells that have been harvested from other body tissues.
DPSCs are not only easy to extract, they also offer more medical advantages in the research of new medical treatments. Being able to use your own stem cells for medical therapies lowers the risk of rejection by the body negating the need to use drugs that have been found to negatively affect the immune system of the patient. Any risks that can be avoided with stem cell treatments move the field in a positive direction.
Since stem cells in your body age with time, their ability to regenerate also decreases. Securing dental stem cells in a stem cell bank early on preserves their value. Because of this, many are choosing to bank dental stem cells for use in the future when stem cell science–and the regulations that bind it–have progressed to a point of more advanced treatment options and freedoms.
Tooth Banking is just as the name implies. A company (of your choosing) stores dental stem cells after it has been extracted by a dental professional. The dental stem cells are harvested from the dental pulp inside the tooth. The DPSCs are a valuable source of highly regenerative stem cells. “They can be preserved indefinitely by being isolated from the dental pulp and then cryogenically frozen,” reports ToothBank.com.
It is just a matter of time before the realities of regenerative medicine and stem cell therapy begin to transform medicine as we see it. To learn more, and to discover what stem cell therapies you may currently be a candidate for, call Stem Cell Centers today at (877) 808-0016 and see what stem cell therapy can do for you!