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Banking on hope

Ten years ago, scientists discovered stem cells in the dental pulp of human teeth. Despite the fact that there are still no FDA-approved therapies using these cells, companies are emerging that charge consumers up to $1,600 to extract and store them. But is there enough scientific evidence to support this type of cellular banking? Image: Wikimedia commons, Loadmaster (David R. Tribble)"We simply don't know how useful these cells will be for tissue engineering and regeneritve medicine," said lin

Jef Akst
Jef Akst

Jef Akst is managing editor of The Scientist, where she started as an intern in 2009 after receiving a master’s degree from Indiana University in April 2009 studying the mating behavior of seahorses.

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Ten years ago, scientists discovered stem cells in the dental pulp of human teeth. Despite the fact that there are still no FDA-approved therapies using these cells, companies are emerging that charge consumers up to $1,600 to extract and store them. But is there enough scientific evidence to support this type of cellular banking?
Image: Wikimedia commons,
Loadmaster (David R. Tribble)
"We simply don't know how useful these cells will be for tissue engineering and regeneritve medicine," said linkurl:Pamela Robey,;http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/Research/NIDCRLaboratories/CranioSkeletal/PamelaGehronRobey.htm a cell biologist at the National Institutes of Health. Research on dental stem cells is still in its early days. One area of focus is their use in treatments for neurodegenerative diseases. Possibly due to the neural crest origin of dental pulp, "dental stem cells appear to be, based on current data, very potent to neurogenesis," said stem cell biologist linkurl:George Huang;http://www.bumc.bu.edu/2009/09/11/dr-george-huang-joins-gsdm/ of the Boston University School of Dental Medicine....
Stem CellsOral Dis.Eur. Cell. Mater.Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly attributed a press release to Store-A-Tooth, when in fact it was released by Save-A-Tooth, a company that services Store-A-Tooth. regrets the error.



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