July 20, 2011
‘New Source For Stem Cells… Teeth!’ Says California Dentist Allan Melnick, DDS
ENCINO, Calif., July 20, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- "Researchers are making discoveries almost daily, using a component that is found in abundance at primary schools and daycare centers," says Dr. Allan Melnick, a noted dentist in Encino, Calif.
For years, scientists have been searching for clinical applications for stem cells, which have the ability to transform into many different cell varieties - especially in the early stages of life. As stem cells divide, the new cells can turn into specialized tissue, such as blood, bone, muscle and teeth cells, or become additional stem cells. Researchers have discovered ways to stimulate stem cells, prompting these biological building blocks to morph into specified tissues.
"Dental stem cells are particularly robust and proliferate rapidly, making them particularly suitable for research," says Melnick. They can be harvested from the dental follicle and tooth pulp. Baby teeth and wisdom teeth are rich in stem cells and provide easy recovery - a resource that scientists are now tapping.
"Experts think dental stem cells hold promise in new therapies for spinal cord injury, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson's disease and even diabetes. Earlier this year, researchers took the pulp from baby teeth and used it to generate islet-like cells. Islets are tiny organs in the pancreas that make insulin," says Allan Melnick, DDS.
"In a recent study, researchers at Columbia University were able to get stem cells to generate jaw bone material, which may lead to treatment for damaged jaw joints. Scientists also are working toward cell-based therapies that might one day help regenerate lost teeth and damaged organs and make new skin for people with severe burns," says Melnick.
Services approved by the American Dental Association and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), such as StemSave, Store-a-Tooth and BioEDEN, now enable dentists to assist parents in banking their children's dental stem cells for the future. Healthy baby teeth and third molars extracted by a dentist, packaged, and shipped to medical facilities, where they are preserved in ultra-cold storage.
"While the FDA has not yet approved clinical therapies using dental stem cells, I believe it's on the horizon. Parents of newborns store umbilical cord blood as a type of medical insurance for their babies, and dental stem cell storage offers a similar measure of security," says Melnick, who endorses dental stem cell harvesting.
"There's no doubt about it. Stem cell research is an exciting field to be in, and I imagine stem cell-based therapy is going to change dentistry as we know it. Who would have imagined that the Tooth Fairy was sitting on such a gold mine?" concluded Melnick.
SOURCE Allan Melnick, DDS