Adelaide University scientists are using adult stem cells derived from teeth to repair brain damage caused by strokes.
The study involved the use of human dental pulp stem cells in rats suffering from post-stroke symptoms.
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Stem cells were transplanted into the damaged brains of the rats with the rats showing significant improvement in brain function, motor skills and cognitive abilities within several weeks.
What does this mean for patients?
Patients will be able to use stem cells extracted from their own teeth to regenerate damaged brain tissue. The use of autologous stem cells eliminates the risk of rejection and the need for immune-suppression drugs and results in a more positive outcome. The research is so promising that the researchers hope to begin clinical trials within three to four years.
More on this research
Here is an abstract from the published papaer on this development:
Human Adult Dental Pulp Stem Cells Enhance Poststroke Functional Recovery Through Non-Neural Replacement Mechanisms
Human adult dental pulp stem cells (DPSCs), derived from third molar teeth, are multipotent and have the capacity to differentiate into neurons under inductive conditions both in vitro and following transplantation into the avian embryo. In this study, we demonstrate that the intracerebral transplantation of human DPSCs 24 hours following focal cerebral ischemia in a rodent model resulted in significant improvement in forelimb sensorimotor function at 4 weeks post-treatment.
At this time, 2.3 ± 0.7% of engrafted cells had survived in the poststroke brain and demonstrated targeted migration toward the stroke lesion.
In the peri-infarct striatum, transplanted DPSCs differentiated into astrocytes in preference to neurons. Our data suggest that the dominant mechanism of action underlying DPSC treatment that resulted in enhanced functional recovery is unlikely to be due to neural replacement.
Functional improvement is more likely to be mediated through DPSC-dependent paracrine effects.
This study provides preclinical evidence for the future use of human DPSCs in cell therapy to improve outcome in stroke patients.