Stem cells from teeth could replace brain cells

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DR. JOSEPH D. LIM

DR. JOSEPH D. LIM

People recovering from stroke could someday benefit from stem cells taken from teeth that could be used to grow brain cells.

This breakthrough treatment could also be applied to brain disorders and is expected to help doctors develop new treatments for patients.

Such exciting news comes from researchers at the University of Adelaide in Australia who said that stem cells taken from teeth could be used to grow brain cells. The new research is seen as a promising treatment for stroke and other brain problems.

Laboratory studies made at the University’s Center for Stem Cell Research found that stem cells from teeth have the ability to form complex networks of brain-like cells. Researchers added that it’s only a matter of time before they discover how to transform these cells into neurons or nerve cells.


“Stem cells from teeth have great potential to grow into new brain or nerve cells, and this could potentially assist with treatments of brain disorders, such as stroke,” according to Dr Kylie Ellis, commercial development manager of Adelaide Research & Innovation.

Ellis made the research as part of her Physiology PhD studies at the university. Her findings were published in the journal Stem Cell Research & Therapy.

“The reality is, treatment options available to the thousands of stroke patients every year are limited. The primary drug treatment available must be administered within hours of a stroke and many people don’t have access within that timeframe, because they often can’t seek help for some time after the attack,” she explained.

“Ultimately, we want to be able to use a patient’s own stem cells for tailor-made brain therapy that doesn’t have the host rejection issues commonly associated with cell-based therapies. Another advantage is that dental pulp stem cell therapy may provide a treatment option available months or even years after the stroke has occurred,” she added.

With the help of colleagues, Professors Simon Koblar, David O’Carroll and Stan Gronthos, Ellis discovered that stem cells derived from teeth developed into cells that closely resembled neurons.

“We can do this by providing an environment for the cells that is as close to a normal brain environment as possible, so that instead of becoming cells for teeth they become brain cells,” she concluded.

Dr. Joseph D. Lim is the dean of the National University College of Dentistry, president & CEO of Dr. Smile Dental Care & Laser Center and honorary fellow of the Asian Oral Implant Academy and the Japan College of Oral Implantologists. For questions on dental health, e-mail jdlim2008@gmail.com or text 0917-8591515.

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