Regenerative Medicine: The Role of Dental Pulp Stem Cells
“The regenerative medicine revolution is upon us. Like iron and steel to the industrial revolution, like the microchip to the tech revolution, stem cells will be the driving force of this next revolution.” Cade Hildreth
Regenerative medicine is the branch of medicine that seeks to regrow, repair or replace damaged or diseased cells, tissues or organs. It stimulates body’s own repair mechanisms to functionally heal previously irreparable tissues or organs. It includes the generation and use of therapeutic stem cells which have unique regenerative abilities, and offer new potentials for treating numerous diseases. Regenerative medicine holds the promise of revolutionising patient care in that it would potentially solve; the problem of shortage of organs available for donation, and the problem of organ transplant rejection. Stem cells are a class of undifferentiated cells that are able to differentiate into specialized cell types. They come from two main sources; embryos (embryonic stem cells) and adult tissue (adult stem cells). Stem cells are categorized by their potential to differentiate into other cells types. Embryonic stem cells are considered to be the most potent. Stem cells have different names depending on the tissue of origin; hematopoietic, mesenchymal, endothelial, mammary, intestinal, neural, skin, muscle, and hair follicle stem cells, among others. Mesenchymal stem cells can differentiate into cells of any type, including those of the three embryonic germ layers (pluripotent).
Adult stem cells have been identified in diverse tissues including brain, bone marrow, peripheral blood, blood vessels, skeletal muscle, skin, teeth, heart, gut, liver, ovarian epithelium, and testis. Among these tissues, dental pulp in the teeth is considered a rich source of mesenchymal stem cells suitable for therapeutic and regenerative treatments. The distinguishing characteristics of the stem cells are; their capacity to renew through cell division, and also their ability to be induced to become tissue specific cells with special functions under certain physiologic or experimental conditions. In some organs, such as the gut and bone marrow, stem cells regularly divide to repair and replace worn out or damaged tissues. In other organs, such as the pancreas and the heart, stem cells only divide under special conditions. Clinical trials with stem cells show promise in treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, cerebral palsy, stroke, autism, diabetes and heart diseases.
The soft living connective tissue within the tooth is the dental pulp. Pulp is a reservoir of mesenchymal stem cells of multi lineage potential, termed as dental pulp stem cells. Although the richest source of stem cells in a new born is the umbilical cord, dental pulp stem cell collection offers an alternative option of stem cell banking. Healthy teeth can be processed and stored for stem cell banking.
Dental pulp; in the teeth which are considered a medical waste after extraction from the mouth; is a source of abundant mesenchymal stem cells, which can be prepared in conjunction with routine dental extraction procedures, without any additional burden to the patient. They can be cryopreserved and revived whenever necessary for future regenerative therapy. Dental pulp stem cells have been used successfully in tooth-tissue engineering, and because of the similarity of these cells to bone marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells, they have a huge potential in repairing extraoral tissues. They are considered a gold standard for neural-crest-derived bone reconstruction.
In the contemporary medical practice, where the need for transplantable tissues and organs far outweighs the available supply, stem cells offer the valuable alternative of a renewable source of replacement cells and tissues. They have the potential to change the face of human disease and alleviate suffering. The therapeutic applications of stem cells have not progressed at the exponential rate at which the research in them has. However, stem cell therapy is promising new approach in the management of disease, and is considered aptly as the future of personalised and regenerative medicine. Dental pulp stem cells are one of the most accessible multipotent mesenchymal stem cells with high rates of growth, for use in regenerative medicine. Healthy teeth can be considered for stem cell banking, similar to umbilical cord blood.
About the Doctor:
Dr Ramakanth Reddy Dubbudu – Chief Consultant Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon
Dr Ramakanth Reddy Dubbudu practices a nearly full spectrum of oral and maxillofacial surgery, with a special interest in facial deformity, facial aesthetic & reconstructive surgery, as well as temporomandibular joint surgery. He is a staunch, passionate practitioner of medical ethics and medico-legal aspects in surgical practice
About Sunshine Hospitals:
A Multi Super Speciality Institution, 500 bedded Sunshine Hospitals (Paradise Circle, Secunderabad) is promoted by globally reputed Joint Replacement Surgeon Dr. AV Gurava Reddy (Orthopedic Doctor) and like-minded associates who share the objective of making world-standard healthcare available, affordable and accessible to the common man. Sunshine has now become one of the best hospitals for many treatments including Orthopedic, Gastroenterology, Cardiology, Trauma and Neurology.