One of the greatest discoveries of the 21st century has been the discovery of stem cells and their potential to revolutionize the way of treating various diseases. More than ten years ago, scientists around the world are excited about the possibility of using these cells to cure diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, cancers and even paralysis. However, did you know that stem cells could also be used for the regeneration of teeth?
This is what a pair of experts from the Federal University of Sao Paulo, Silvio and Monica Duailibi, discovered together with researchers from the Massachusetts Hospital in the United States.
The study, published in the Journal of Dental Research, showed that it is possible to create teeth in mice from adult stem cells extracted from another tooth from that same animal. Although it is still necessary to do many studies before applying the technique in humans, this discovery promises to be a revolution in aesthetic and restorative dentistry. Here we explain a little more about the subject.
What are stem cells and what do they do?
They have the potential to become many different cell types in the body, that is, they can be transformed into different cells of the body, such as the epithelial, neurons, liver cells, among others. Stem cells work as a body repair system and, therefore, researchers around the world are studying the possibility of using them to regenerate damaged tissues, such as a heart after a heart attack, for example. These cells can be extracted from the human embryo and also from various other tissues of our adult body.
How to create a tooth from stem cells?
In the first experiments performed on mice, the researchers were able to reproduce the dental structures from adult animal stem cells and, with the help of magnetic resonance imaging and a computer program, defined the dimensions of the tooth. Thus, it was possible to reproduce the incisor, the molar, the premolar and the canine. Previous studies had already managed to grow teeth in the abdomen of mice, however, the breakthrough of this research was the regeneration of the tooth inside the mouth. “We managed to make the tooth grow where it should, in the jaw,” explains Silvio Duailibi.
How to apply the technique in humans?
Human testing will still take a while, since scientists need to be sure that the implanted cells did not undergo mutations or move. However, when applied in humans, this finding will allow medicine to work with regeneration as opposed to repair. This means that instead of resorting to a filling in a decayed tooth, for example, it will be possible to recreate the enamel and dentin that were damaged by the disease.