Store-A-Tooth Advisor Calls for Leadership from Dentists to Realize the Potential of Stem Cells from Teeth

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The NIH discovered in 2000 that teeth can be a rich source of stem cells—especially baby teeth that come loose during childhood, wisdom teeth extracted from teens or young adults, and teeth that need to be pulled to make room for braces. These dental stem cells are expected to play a key role in enabling breakthroughs in regenerative dentistry and medicine.

With the recognition that there are valuable stem cells in teeth, the dentist may become the primary provider of cells that can be used in the future by physicians for the treatment of a variety of conditions, e.g. diabetes, spinal cord injury and stroke.

Amid the scientific enthusiasm and occasional political controversy over stem cells, Paul Krasner is calling for leadership from what might at first seem a profession detached from the issue: dentistry.

“It’s up to us as dentists to develop this field,” says Dr. Krasner, D.D.S., a Diplomate of the American Board of Endodontics, a professor of clinical endodontics at Temple University School of Dentistry in Philadelphia, PA and a founding advisor of Store-A-Tooth (TM) (http://www.store-a-tooth.com).

What brings dentists and oral surgeons into the field is a discovery made at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2000 yet often obscured by other stem cell news: The discovery that teeth can be a rich source of stem cells—especially baby teeth that come loose during childhood, wisdom teeth extracted from teens or young adults, and teeth that need to be pulled to make room for braces.

Indeed, laboratories and clinics around the world are investigating the promise of these cells in wide-ranging dental and medical applications. In human studies, stem cells from teeth have already been used to regrow jawbone and treat periodontal disease.

In a “Viewpoint” article appearing in the February 2011 issue of Dentistry Today, Dr. Krasner tells his colleagues that they will play a lead role in enabling stem-cell therapies if current research fulfills its promise. (Dr. Krasner recently co-authored a CE course about dental stem cells, published by http://www.dentalcetoday.com.)

With the recognition that there are valuable stem cells in teeth,” he says, “the dentist may become the primary provider of cells that can be used in the future by physicians for the treatment of a variety of conditions such as diabetes, spinal cord injury, myocardial infarction, and neurological diseases like Parkinson’s.”

He urges dentists to support research and clinical studies, educate their staff and their patients, and promote sound policy on dental stem cell preservation. His remarks echo a 2008 policy statement on stem cells by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. (See http://www.aapd.org/media/Policies_Guidelines/P_StemCells.pdf)

In his role as an advisor, Dr. Krasner provides clinical expertise to Store-A-Tooth, a service that lets families preserve the stem cells in their children’s teeth. By banking stem cells now, families can be prepared to take advantage of future advances in stem cell research. Store-A-Tooth is a service provided by Provia Laboratories, LLC.

The process is simple. The patient’s family makes an appointment when a baby tooth is ready to fall out or a wisdom tooth needs to be extracted – it’s recommended to have the tooth taken out by a dental professional so its blood supply is still intact. After removing the tooth, the dentist or oral surgeon places it into a kit designed to protect the tooth during overnight transport to the cell-preservation facility. There the sample is decontaminated, tested to confirm its sterility, and the dental pulp harvested from the tooth. Quality control tests such as flow cytometry are performed to confirm that stem cell biomarkers are present in the samples, which are then stored at extremely low temperatures so that the stem cells can be retrieved and used in future years.

Although only continuing research will determine which types of stem cells will best meet specific needs, stem cells from teeth clearly hold certain advantages:

  •     They are easy to collect, unlike bone-marrow stem cells, which are harvested by an invasive procedure.
  •     They can be obtained at various times during youth, unlike umbilical cord blood stem cells, which become available only at birth.
  •     They are not subject to the ethical concerns that have been raised about embryonic stem cells.

Dr. Krasner, for his part, has made a practical contribution to preserving stem cells from teeth: He invented the tooth-transport device chosen for the Store-A-Tooth service. Called Save-A-Tooth (R), it is the only device approved by the FDA and accepted by the American Dental Association to preserve knocked-out teeth following injury. It has been recommended as a component of every first-aid kit by both the Mayo Clinic and the NIH. Just as it protects a knocked-out tooth until the tooth can be reimplanted, it provides high-quality protection of an extracted tooth with its stem cells during transport from a dentist’s office to Provia Labs’ facility for long-term preservation. (http://www.saveatooth.com)

And Dr. Krasner practices what he preaches. Store-a-Tooth is preserving the stem cells from his own son’s wisdom teeth.

About Provia Laboratories LLC
Provia Laboratories, LLC (http://www.provialabs.com) is a healthcare services company specializing in high quality biobanking (preservation of biological specimens). The company’s Store-A-Tooth(TM) service platform enables the collection, transport, processing, and storage of dental stem cells for potential use in future stem-cell therapies. The company advises industrial, academic, and governmental clients on matters related to the preservation of biological specimens for research and clinical use. In addition, Provia offers a variety of products for use in complex biobanking environments to improve sample logistics, security, and quality. Provia Labs is a member of ISBER, the International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories.

For more information about Store-A-Tooth, call 1-877-867-5753 or visit http://www.store-a-tooth.com.

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