I was recently interviewed about developments in dental stem cell banking and it was surprising that even in this day and age there is still a persistent confusion about stem cells.
I find myself having to explain that the stem cells we (Store-A-Tooth™) preserve for customers are dental stem cells and that they come from teeth (yes... really) and that these are ADULT stem cells and NOT embryonic stem cells.
The cells are actually carefully extracted from the pulp of the tooth which was discovered to be a incredibly rich source of stem cells.
According to some researchers, we might not even need to use embryonic stem cells in research at all! Japanese scientist Shinya Yamanaka managed achieved to create embryonic-like adult cells, however, without manipulating and destroying the embryos. Stem cells, called iPS, can easily transform themselves into human tissue, without ethical problems.
“When I saw an embryo under a microscope, I thought it was not so far from being like my daughters, so I decided I had to find another way to obtain pluripotent cells”, he explained.
He is also looking forward to new research studies. The most important research of his life is the one he has been working on. It deals with the treatment of Spinal Cord Injured patients, in collaboration with other investigators of Keio University in Tokyo (Japan).
Here are just some of the potential applications for stem cells from teeth:
- Spinal cord injury
- Heart attacks
- Jawbone regeneration
- Crohn's Disease
- Parkinson's disease
- Muscular dystrophy
There have also been recent reports that researchers in Australia have found stem cells in breast milk that, like embryonic stem cells, can become many different types of cells in the body.
Dr Foteini Hassiotou and the Hartmann Human Lactation Research Group at the University of Western Australia have found stem cells in human breast milk that they have turned into bone, brain, liver, and pancreatic cells that produce insulin.
With your own stem cells being the "best stem cells" from a compatibility point of view, the only caveat here is that this won't apply to those of us that don't produce breast milk.
We do however, all have teeth...