April 24, 2024

Japanese find smart use for wisdom teeth

Could be stem cell treasure trove

Everyone may be carrying a personal
stem-cell bank in their wisdom teeth. Until now, most induced pluripotent stem
cells have started from skin cells. But even though these are easy to procure, they
are very low in reprogramming efficiency.

Researchers at Japan’s National Institute
of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology have found that wisdom teeth
contain a soft pulp with mesenchymal stromal cells.  These are similar to bone marrow cells, a common source for
stem cells. But tooth pulp is obtained far more easily than bone marrow.

The researchers collected tooth samples
from three donors and successfully generated a series of iPS cell lines by
activating three key genes. One feature of the new technique was that they did
not have to activate the c-MYC gene which can lead to the cells becoming cancerous.

This could have many therapeutic
applications. The removal of wisdom teeth is very common in developed countries
and provides a perfect opportunity for removing biological material in a
sterilised setting – and the teeth can be frozen and stored for many years. ~ Journal of
Biological Medicine, Sept 17

Jared Yee
stem cells