It is interesting when the field of dentistry crosses over into other fields of science. In a recent discovery by a team from the University of Adelaide in Australia, revealed that the use of stem cells from the pulp of teeth may be able to yield treatments for stroke victims. Though the studies have only been performed on mice, there are far reaching implications.
It appears that the stem cells from teeth readily adapt to the milieu of the brain tissue and form complex networks of brain-like cells. As it enters pre-clinical trials, it does lend itself to hope that the damage caused by strokes, and perhaps other traumatic brain injuries, could be reversed or treated. A primary concern however, is the adapted stem cells are not exactly brain cells. While they do form complex networks, there may be fundamental differences in how they interact with the brain. Still, it is a positive development, both for the worlds of dentistry and neuroscience. The pulp was considered primarily a superfluous material as teeth aged, but it may find ‘new life’ so to speak from this discovery.
With a tailor made treatment for strokes and brain therapy and evidence that these stem cells can help even after the brain is damaged by a stroke, many of those with disabilities caused by brain injury may have hope to recover eventually.
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