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Dental Stem Cells When I came across the research on today's show, I thought.. wow, this is like believing in the tooth fairy again!

What are you talking about?

Well, have you heard what's being done with dental stem cells?

You've got me there. I'm well aware of stem cells that are isolated from a newborn's umbilical cord blood but dental stem cells?

Yes. Stem cells isolated from dental pulp which is the soft tissue inside a tooth, are actually quite different from stem cells in cord blood. In cord blood, hematopoietic stem cells that lead to different blood cell types predominate.

Stem cells from dental pulp are mesenchymal in origin and they can differentiate and contribute to bone, cartilage, and fat tissue.

Even more exciting is dental stem cells' potential to treat neurodegenerative diseases. That's because dental pulp comes from embryonic tissue that differentiates into all types of neurologic specific cells.

In recent studies, undifferentiated cells from dental pulp were placed into mouse brains where they then differentiated into functional neurons. This opens up the real possibility that these cells could be used to repair injuries to the spinal cord or other damage to the central nervous system.

So what are the sources of dental pulp? Teeth of course!

Teeth that are extracted during dental procedures or even baby teeth.

Stem cells derived from baby teeth are called SHED stem cells from human exfoliated deciduous teeth.

SHED have already been used to accelerate the healing of skull fractures in animals. In a recent human study, researchers have also used these cells from extracted wisdom teeth to re-grow bone at the extraction site of the same individual.

This would indicate that SHED could have a great potential as a bone regeneration mechanism.

It's possible we've literally discovered the tooth fairy in our own teeth.


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Stem Cell Basics
From the National Institutes for Health resource for stem cell research, this is an extensive site with a wealth of basic information about stem cells, current research and policy and ethical issues surrounding their use.
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SHED repair critical-size calvarial defects in mice BM Seo, etal Oral Dis. 2008 July; 14(5): 428434.
One of the first original research reports on the use of dental stem cells to repair skull fractures in mice.
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Banking on hope Posted by Jef Akst
News on dental stem cells and there potential uses in medicine. The blog also covers companies that have been formed to specifically bank SHED.
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