Stem Cell Preservation
Stem cells are unique because they drive the natural healing process throughout your life. Stem cells are different from other cells in the body because they regenerate and produce specialized cell types. They heal and restore skin, bones, cartilage, muscles, nerves and other tissues when injured. There are two main types of stem cells: adult stem cells, such as those found in bone marrow and teeth and embryonic stem cells.
Today, medical researchers are learning how to control stem cells and direct their growth into specialized cells, including: blood, skin, bone, cartilage, teeth, muscle and nerves.
As a result, amazing new medical treatments are being developed to treat a range of diseases contemporary medicine currently deems difficult or impossible to treat. Among them are:
- Parkinson's Disease
- Brain Injuries
- Heart Disease
- Muscular dystrophy
- Crohn's disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Neimann-Pick Type C
- Periodontal Disease
- Sports Injuries
- Cosmetic and Anti-aging Applications
Recently, investigators have discovered a unique type of mesenchymal stem cell in the dental pulp of deciduous (baby) and permanent teeth. Scientists have observed that these stem cells act differently than other adult stem cells. These dentally-derived mesenchymal stem cells are capable of extensive proliferation and differentiation, which makes them an important resource of stem cells for regeneration and repair of a multitude of diseased and injured organs and tissues. Given their ability to produce and secrete neurotrophic factors, these stem cells may also be beneficial for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases and the repair of motoneurons following injury.
Research on dental mesenchymal stem cells is expanding at an unprecedented rate. Over 1,000 research studies from institutions around the world have been published since the year 2000 that make reference to dental stem cells. In the year 2007 alone, over 1000 research articles were published on Dental Stem Cells. Additionally, over 60 clinical investigations with animals and human volunteers have been published seeking to identify potential new medical treatments from adult stem cells.
Stem cell-based therapies are being investigated for the treatment of many conditions including: neurodegenerative conditions, liver disease, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune diseases, musculoskeletal disorders, and for nerve regeneration following brain or spinal cord injury.
As these clinical studies continue to advance in the years ahead, it is widely expected that to avoid autoimmune rejection from donor tissues and to maximize therapeutic efficacy, stem cells will be used to generate a specific treatment for a specific patient. The emerging field of "Personalized Medicine" is a popular topic in the media, which generally refers to new medical technologies derived from a patient's own stem cells and the use of genomic diagnostics.
While we can see the promise of human stem cell therapies for the future, it is important to act now to harvest and store cells from deciduous (baby) teeth and third molars (wisdom teeth) while the opportunities are available to child and adolescent patients.
What are stem cells?
Stem cells are immature, unspecialized cells in the body that are able to grow into specialized cell types by a process known as "differentiation." There are two primary sources of stem cells: embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells, the latter of which are found in many organs and tissues in the human body, including the dental pulp contained within teeth. Embryonic stem cells have the ability to grow into any cell type in the body. However, there is great ethical controversy regarding obtaining and using these stem cells for medical research and treatment purposes. Until recently, it was thought that adult stem cells could only turn into cells that were the same as those in the tissues and organs in which they were found. It is now known that adult stem cells taken from one area of the body can be transplanted into another area and grown into a completely different type of tissue. This ability to grow and regenerate tissues is the focus of the emerging field of personalized medicine which uses a patient's own stem cells for biologically compatible therapies and individually tailored treatments.
How are stem cells being used in medicine?
Stem cell-based therapies are being investigated for the treatment of many conditions, including neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson's Disease and Multiple Sclerosis, liver disease, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune diseases, musculoskeletal disorders and for nerve regeneration following brain or spinal cord injury. Currently, patients are being treated using stem cells for bone fractures, cancer (bone marrow transplants) and spinal fusion surgery. New stem cell therapies are continually under review, or have already been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Many other therapies are in various stages of product development. As the number of people affected by degenerative diseases continues to increase, there will be a greater need for new treatment options for the ever-growing aging population. Harvesting and storing stem cells now will ensure their availability in the future when they will be needed most.
How difficult is it to obtain stem cells to bank for future use?
In the case of dental stem cells, the process is not at all difficult. In fact, it is easy. Healthy stem cells are discarded on a daily basis as the result of routine dental procedures (tooth extractions). The stem cells contained within the pulp of healthy teeth are the most easily-accessible stem cells that can be recovered. When compared to other types of stem cells and their corresponding methods of recovery (i.e., stem cells obtained from embryos, cord blood, bone marrow, adipose (fat tissue) and peripheral blood), obtaining stem cells from teeth is ethically uncontroversial, non-invasive, less dependent on timing and far less expensive. As opposed to stem cell recovery from cord blood, wherein there is one single opportunity immediately following the birth of a child, there are numerous opportunities to obtain stem cells from teeth. It is best, however, to recover and store dental stem cells at an early age. Those obtained from the extracted loose baby teeth of a healthy child and those extracted from a healthy adolescent (i.e. bicuspid teeth removed in preparation for orthodontic treatment and extracted wisdom teeth) are ideal.
Why should I consider banking stem cells from my or my child's teeth?
Tooth-derived stem cells are readily accessible and provide an easy and minimally invasive way to obtain and store stem cells for future use. Banking ones own tooth-derived stem cells is a reasonable and simple alternative to harvesting stem cells from other tissues. Obtaining stem cells from baby teeth is simple and convenient, with little or no trauma. Every child loses baby teeth, which creates the perfect opportunity to recover and store this convenient source of stem cells – should they be needed to treat future injuries or ailments – and presents a far better alternative to simply discarding the teeth or storing them as mementos from the past. Furthermore, using ones own stem cells poses few, if any, risks for developing immune reactions or rejection following transplantation and also eliminates the potential of contracting disease from donor cells. Stem cells can also be recovered from developing wisdom teeth and permanent teeth. Individuals have different opportunities at different stages of their life to bank these valuable stem cells It is best to recover stem cells when you or your child are young and healthy and the cells are strong and proliferative.
When can I bank stem cells from my child's teeth or from my own teeth?
With regard to children, the best time to recover baby teeth with stem cells is before the teeth become very loose, as the cells in the dental pulp will remain more viable if they continue to have a blood supply. Your dentist will determine the optimal time for the removal of these teeth. StemSave provides you with the opportunity to recover the teeth for stem cell preservation once the teeth have been removed. Remember that your child will not be sacrificing a tooth, as baby teeth are lost naturally to allow for the permanent teeth to erupt. Adolescents and Adults have two excellent opportunities for banking their dental stem cells: following extraction of bicuspid teeth in preparation for orthodontic treatment, and after the extraction of their wisdom teeth. Although these teeth are typically discarded, you can ask your dentist to participate with StemSave in providing you the opportunity to recover and preserve your family's dental stem cells.
Are Stem Cells being used today to treat any systemic diseases?
Yes. Mesenchymal stem cells are being utilized to treat cardiac infarcts, muscular dystrophy, Parkinson's disease, liver disease, etc