Thursday, June 22, 2017

The wisdom of stem cells.............

I absolutely love my job as a medical transcriptionsist, and I think I am pretty good at it if I say so myself.  

Anyhoo, I used to work in the dental field and currently transcribe for several dental accounts, and I have been learning some pretty fascinating information pertaining to wisdom teeth.  Turns out these useless, cavity-collectors are potentially gold mines for stem cells so
if you are still in possession of your wisdom teeth, keep reading.  

First of all what the heck are stem cell?  Stem cells are a similar cell of a multi-cellular organism which have the capacity to give rise to an infinite number of cells of the same type which in turn specific other types of cells arise by differentiation.  Sounds good to me!  

Basically stem cells are the foundation for every organ and all the tissue in your body.  

There are, of course, a few different types of stem cells; embryonic stem cells (ES), Adult stem cells-i.e. somatic stem cells.  Then you have induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs)-i.e. produced in a lab by reprogramming adult cells to generate ES characteristics. Totally lost yet?  No worries.

No matter what type of stem we are talking about, all stem cells can self-renew and differentiate; which is a fancy way of saying make copies of themselves and develop into more specialized cells.  

Stem cells are transplanted routinely to treat a host of blood diseases, bone marrow disease, blood cancers, and immune disorders.  Stem cells have the potential to repair and regenerate damaged skin tissue.  Stem cells can also replace neurons damaged by a spinal cord injury, as well as help people who have had strokes, have Parkinsons or Alzheimers, repair damaged heart tissue after a heart attack, and produce insulin to treat diabetes.  

Recent studies have shown that stem cells can actually regrow tooth tissue, which means they are a natural alternative to fillings.

Did you know that since the 80s, skin stem cells have been used to grow skin grafts for patient with life-threatening burns on large areas of their bodies?

Stem cell treatment is the transplantation of blood stem cells to treat disease/conditions of the immune system and blood and/or restore blood systems after treatments for specific types of cancers.  

Can you believe that in Europe over 26,000 patient are treated with blood stem cells each year?

How about the fact that stem cell treatments can repair damage to the cornea-i.e. the surface of the eye after an injury such as a chemical burn?

So where is the wisdom in this?  Well, turns out stem cells are found in teeth.  They are predominantly found in baby teeth and wisdom teeth.  

These magical cells are located with the teeth are Mesenchymal Stem Cells.  MSC are multi-potent stromal cell (connective tissue) that can differentiate into a variety of cell types including osteoblasts (bone cells), chondrocytes (cartilage cells), and adipocytes (fat cells).  This type of stem cell can be used to regenerate bone and tissue throughout the entire body.

Okay, so unless you are in the medical/dental field, a scientist, a doctor, of just extremely smart, the majority of that probably went right over your head but because this new concept could be life-altering, I will explain it in English.

Stem cells from teeth is a fairly new concept but basically the stem cells are extracted from the pulp-i.e. living connective tissue and cells (odontoblasts).  It is found in the center of the tooth.  Any soft tissue adhering to the tooth is removed and disinfected.  After that, enzymes are added to release the cells from the matrix pulp, the cells go into a culture dish, and they grow.  With stem cells a little goes a long way.  The tiniest amounts can literally produce millions of structural stem cells.  

If you have your wisdom teeth or have a child that is due to have them removed, you may want to check out a tooth bank before extraction.  Yes, tooth banks are now a thing, sorry tooth fairy.  

I just wanted to share the info because I thought it was very interesting.  

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