Stem cells from Teeth

Dental pulp from wisdom teeth could be a new source of therapeutic stem cells, Japanese researchers announced recently.

Like embryonic stem cells, the new cells—known as mesenchymal stem cells—are capable of developing into a variety of tissues, including bone, cartilage, and fat. These new lines of stem cells can be created without the use of an embryo—possibly sidestepping controversy.

In many countries adults routinely get minor surgeries to remove wisdom teeth.

"The [wisdom] tooth is usually discarded into trash, so there are no ethical concerns," said Hajime Ohgushi, principal research scientist at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in the Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan.

However, unlike embryonic stem cells, the newfound cells cannot morph into almost any type of cell in the body.

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