No one ever plans on themselves or their children developing a life threatening disease. Fortunately, if you haven’t already stored cord blood, adult stem cell storage may be an option for you now.
Can you imagine your dental stem cells used to make insulin producing pancreatic islet cells? Once implanted, there would be no need for immunosuppressive medications because they are your own cells! The future of modern medicine is amazing.
What is a Stem Cell?
According to the NIH, stem cells are unspecialized cells capable of cell division. Most importantly they can be manipulated into tissue or organ specific cells with functions.
Stem Cells are amazing in the respect that scientists can use the stem cell to replicate many different types of cells and therefore have a widespread use throughout medicine.
Not every stem cell is created the same and there are different applications depending on their source. Dental pulp is predominately mesenchymal, while cord blood is hematopoietic, and bone marrow has both stem cells. Some people choose to store both dental and cord blood because of these reasons.
What is a Dental Stem Cell?
Stem cells have most recently been discovered in baby teeth and also in adult teeth or wisdom teeth that are extracted. Dental stem cells are adult stem cells, not embryonic stem cells. Therefore, they are much easier to harvest.
Embryonic stem cells are only available at birth in the cord blood from the placenta, or through bone marrow stem cells. The opportunity exists to extract dental stem cells over a lengthy period in your child’s life. Through a non-invasive natural process, our baby teeth loosen and fall out. What would otherwise be discarded can be put to good use.
What Diseases are being studied?
“The study used stem cells from children’s baby teeth to create islet-like cell aggregates that produced insulin in a glucose-dependent manner, a first step towards a potential cure for type 1 diabetes.”
“Dental stem cells were discovered more recently and are being studied for a number of conditions related to the connective tissues or neural tissues in the body – including type 1 diabetes, spinal cord injury, skeletal bone loss, Muscular Dystrophy, cardiovascular diseases such as myocardial infarction and stroke, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.” According to Store-A-Tooth
A Phase II clinical trial supported by JDRF using adult mesenchymal stem cells is in progress.
Have there been Human applications at this point?
Yes, and they have been in regenerative dentistry.
“Regrowing jaw bone and treating periodontal (gum) disease. Scientists anticipate the earliest medical applications will be for the repair of damaged tooth structures, bone regeneration, and perhaps ultimately also for the treatment of neural tissue injury or neurodegenerative diseases. “ According to Store-A-Tooth
How do you store your child’s tooth?
Similar to storing cord blood, there are companies that store teeth. These companies work with your dentist to collect the tooth after it is removed. The tooth is stored and shipped overnight accordingly and the company will store the tooth for future usage.
They extract the cells from the teeth and store with cryopreservation techniques. This process ensures your cells will be there when the technology is ready to utilize them.