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News / September 13, 2010

Wisdom teeth a source of stem cells

by Guy Hiscott

New evidence reveals that wisdom teeth are the holders of valuable stem tissue.
That’s according to a study appearing in the 17 September Journal of Biological Chemistry which shows that third molars contain a valuable reservoir of tissue for the creation of stem cells.

The soft pulp inside of teeth contains a population of cells known as mesenchymal stromal cells that are similar to cells found in bone marrow, a common stem-cell source.
However, unlike bone marrow, tooth pulp is more easily obtained, especially in wisdom teeth, which most individuals have removed anyway.

The researchers at Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, led by Hajime Ohgushi, collected tooth samples from three donors and managed to generate a series of iPS cell lines following the similar procedure of activating three key genes (however, in another beneficial change they did not have activate the c-MYC gene which might lead the cells to become cancerous).

The different cell lines displayed varying degrees of robustness but in some cases proliferated quite well, up to 100 times more efficiently than typical skin-cell-derived iPS cells.
The molar-derived cells also could differentiate into many other cell types including beating cardiomyocytes, as expected.

The presence of a supply of MSCs in wisdom teeth could have meaningful therapeutic ramifications.
As noted by the researchers and others, wisdom tooth extraction is a common medical procedure and, so, creates a perfect opportunity to remove biological material in a sterilised setting; the teeth subsequently can be frozen and stored for many years until needed.
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