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Stem cells Banking

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What are Stem Cells?

Stem Cells are the “master cells” of the body which have the potential to differentiate into various types of cell, depending on the part of the body and also have the ability to self-regenerate or multiply.

There are two types of human stem cells
  • Embryonic Stem Cells – obtained from early embryos resulting from IVF treatment. They have the potential to become any type of cells in the body. However, their use is controversial as collection of the stem cells results in the destruction of the embryo.
  • Adult Stem Cells– found in various parts of the body including dental pulp tissue, umbilical cord blood and bone marrow. These stem cells have the potential to become several different types of cells.
What are the advantages of Dental Pulp Stem Cells?
  • Baby teeth and young adult teeth are a good source of a type of adult stem cells called mesenchymal stem cells.
  • Dental stem cells are easy to collect and found in high concentration within the tooth pulp.
  • There are no ethical issues, since the stem cells are harvested from teeth that would fall out naturally or are to be extracted for other reasons.
  • Dental stem cells have the potential to become many different types of cells.

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I have already banked stem cells from my child’s cord blood. Why should I also consider banking dental stem cells?
Banking dental stem cells is complimentary to cord blood banking. The stem cells obtained from the umbilical cord are hematopoietic stem cells which are able to differentiate into all types of blood cells to treat blood diseases. The stem cells from the dental pulp have a much wider range of potential therapeutic uses.
In what treatments are stem cells already being used?

There have been great advances in treating diseases and conditions of the blood system, such as leukaemia and anaemia,using blood-forming stem cells and these show us just how powerful stem cell therapies can be.

What diseases can potentially be treated using stem cell therapy?

Much research is ongoing in this area. It is now known that adult stem cells taken from one area of the body can be transplanted into another area and reprogrammed to grow into a completely different type of tissue. Stem cell science is continually moving forward. Scientists all over the world are researching ways to harness stem cells and use them to learn more about, to diagnose, and to treat various diseases and conditions.

Many potential treatments are currently being tested in animal models and some have already been brought to clinical trials:

  • Type 1 (insulin dependent) diabetes
  • Treatment of spinal cord injuries
  • Neurological diseases e.g. Parkinson’s disease
  • Heart disease
  • Regeneration of bone, cartilage and other tissues
  • Treatment of Autoimmune diseases
Which teeth can be used for stem cell banking?
  • Baby (milk) teeth – These should be extracted and sent for stem cell banking soon before they are due to fall out.
  • Healthy adult teeth – When extraction is planned to make space before orthodontic treatment.
  • Wisdom teeth – These are often extracted due to impaction or lack of space.

Teeth from children and young adults usually give a better quality and quantity of stem cells than older teeth.