Imagine a world where victims of spinal cord injuries can walk, where there are no shortages of organs for those in need of an organ transplant, where diabetes is no longer treated with insulin shots but cured by implanting insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells grown from the individual’s own stem cells. Such is the promise of stem cell-based regenerative medicine as envisioned by both the NIH (National Institutes of Health) and the HHS (Department of Health and Human Services). Both the NIH and HHS are committing significant resources to the field of regenerative medicine and both predict it will revolutionize medicine as we know it today, improving quality of life and reducing health care costs.
According to the HHS, “This revolutionary technology has the potential to develop therapies for previously untreatable diseases and conditions. Examples of diseases regenerative medicine can cure include: diabetes, heart disease, renal failure, osteoporosis and spinal cord injuries. Virtually any disease that results from malfunctioning, damaged, or failing tissues may be potentially cured through regenerative medicine therapies. Having these tissues available to treat sick patients creates the concept of tissues for life.” So promising is the technology that the US military is spending hundreds of millions of dollars through the AFIRM (Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine) initiative, to develop regenerative stem cell therapies to treat injured soldiers returning from battle.
What is Regenerative Medicine?
According to the NIH, “Regenerative Medicine is the process of creating living, functional tissues to repair or replace organ function lost due to age, disease, damage or congenital defects. This field holds the promise of regenerating damaged tissues and organs in the body by stimulating previously irreparable organs to heal themselves. Regenerative medicine also empowers scientists to grow tissues and organs in the laboratory and safely implant them when the body cannot heal itself.” Regenerative medicine utilizes stem cells, the body’s own natural repair and maintenance mechanisms, to address disease and trauma.
Stem cells are unique in that they are the only cells in our body that can regenerate. Certain types of stem cells have the ability to ‘differentiate.’ This allows stem cells to turn into a broad range of specialized tissue types. This means that stem cells can regenerate organs, tissues, bones and much more. As a result, we are witnessing stem cell therapies being developed to treat disease and trauma such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, MS, arthritis, heart disease, spinal cord injuries, joint replacement, genetic diseases and many more.
Did you know there are powerful stem cells in your teeth?
The stem cells that exist in teeth are very compelling for a number of reasons:
- They are ‘plastic’ – meaning they can differentiate into other types of tissue such as muscle, neurons, bone, organs, insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells, skin and cartilage to name a few. This means they could potentially be used to treat a wide range of disease and injury.
- Virtually no chance of rejection - saving your own stem cells from your teeth, otherwise known as your own autologous tissue, means that once they are reintroduced into the body during a treatment, they will not be rejected as foreign tissue as the body recognizes them as their own. Reintroducing your own tissue during treatment virtually eliminates the chance of rejection and the need for immunosuppressant drugs.
- Non-controversial - stem cells in teeth are ‘adult’ stem cells; they are non-embryonic stem cells and therefore do not have any of the moral and ethical controversies associated with embryonic stem cells.
- Easy and convenient - stem cells from teeth can be recovered and banked conveniently and affordably during routine dental procedures.
It is important to note that stem cells age along with the individual. It’s one of the reasons we physically grow old. After we reach full adulthood, our stem cells fail to keep up with the degradation our bodies endure over time. Hence, the younger the stem cells, the better. That is why baby teeth are such a great source of stem cells. Recovering stem cells from baby teeth ensure the stem cells are young, strong and vital. Wisdom teeth and healthy teeth being extracted for orthodontic purposes from young adults also present excellent opportunities to recover stem cells.
The promise of regenerative medicine is not science fiction or decades away - it is happening today. We are witnessing organ transplants with organs built entirely from a person’s own stem cells. Recently, doctors replaced a woman’s cancerous windpipe with one grown from her own stem cells – not a donor’s. Why is this so important? Besides removing the uncertainty and stress related to finding a suitable organ donor, by using the patient’s own stem cells, doctors were able to eliminate the need for the patient to take anti-rejection drugs. Otherwise, she would have had to spend the rest of her life taking powerful immunosuppressant drugs which can have undesired side effects. Another recent example is the successful transplantation of bladders that are grown in a laboratory with the individual’s own stem cells.
In addition, heart tissue, bone, insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells and other tissues are being grown from stem cells. With the continued success of such procedures, personalized stem cell applications will become the new standard of treatment.
With StemSave, protecting your family’s future health by securing their stem cells today is easy and convenient. StemSave works with us to recover the teeth at the time of an extraction to assure the highest probability of stem cell viability. Simply register at www.StemSave.com and StemSave sends one of its patented transport kits to us prior to the planned procedure. At the time of the extraction, we will deposit the extracted teeth into the kit. The kit is then sealed and rushed to StemSave’s laboratories where the teeth are processed and the cells tested for viability. Upon positive viability, the cells are cryopreserved to be available for utilization in future personalized regenerative therapies.
To learn more about how you can secure your family’s future health by banking their stem cells, call our office today or visit www.StemSave.com.