Store Your Teeth in a Stem Cell Bank

by Linda von Wartburg , | 2011-04-24

Every year, four million baby teeth and 1.4 million wisdom teeth are pulled out of our collective mouth.  Until recently, the only entity really interested in all those teeth was the tooth fairy. But all that changed in the year 2000, with the discovery that dental pulp contains adult stem cells. In the not-too-distant future, those stem cells might be used for growing new islet cells to cure diabetes. The problem is, how to keep the teeth nice and fresh until that hoped-for day. That's where Provia Laboratories comes in, with their Store-A-Tooth service.

Peter Verlander, PhD, the chief scientific officer of Provia, says, "Essentially, any healthy tooth is a candidate for banking. Researchers have been able to recover stem cells from teeth in people up to their forties, but evidence suggests that cells from baby teeth or from wisdom teeth that come out in early age are better. We collect baby teeth that are coming out naturally, baby and adult teeth that are extracted for orthodontic reasons, and healthy wisdom teeth."

"Some people believe that one tooth will give you enough stem cells for many clinical applications, but it's very difficult to predict how many is enough. These are highly proliferative cells, more proliferative in culture than bone marrow cells. The people who are working with them think that you could get many, many ‘doses' of cells from a single tooth."

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