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Biotech Medicine

Using Wisdom Teeth To Make Stem Cells 82

Posted by samzenpus
from the spare-parts dept.
An anonymous reader writes "For most people, wisdom teeth are not much more than an annoyance that eventually needs to be removed. However, a new study appearing in the September 17 Journal of Biological Chemistry shows that wisdom teeth contain a valuable reservoir of tissue for the creation of stem cells; thus, everyone might be carrying around his or her own personal stem-cell repository should he or she ever need some. Groundbreaking research back in 2006 revealed that inducing the activity of four genes in adult cells could 'reprogram' them back into a stem-cell-like state; biologically, these induced-pluripotent stem cells are virtually identical to embryonic stem cells, opening up a new potential avenue for stem-cell therapy whereby patients could be treated with their own stem cells."
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Using Wisdom Teeth To Make Stem Cells

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  • Great! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by schmidt349 (690948) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @12:51PM (#33545940)

    Could you maybe have told me this _before_ I had them yanked?

  • by PCM2 (4486) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @01:11PM (#33546100) Homepage

    From TFA, it sounds as though any tooth will do, but you probably don't want to suck all the pulp out of the teeth that are still in your mouth. Wisdom teeth are usually taken out anyway, which is what makes them a convenient option.

  • by wickerprints (1094741) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @03:00PM (#33546912)

    One could argue that adult stem cell research has been spurred because of restrictions on embryonic stem cell research. But that view fails to recognize that in order to obtain adult stem cells, one has to go through more involved processes just to get the cells in a potentially useful state--in fact, that is what makes the approach discussed in TFA interesting (that one has a better chance of getting such cells from the root pulp in teeth, than say, skin cells).

    Thus, restrictions on embryonic stem cells have seriously slowed down research into how we can use stem cells (of any kind) to treat disease, because not only do scientists have to figure out how to get adult stem cells to do what they want, they also have to GET TO THEM. We would know more about all kinds of stem cells if public funding existed for embryonic stem cell research. Instead, researchers have to expend extra effort getting adult cells to revert to a pluripotent state, instead of being able to concentrate on understanding how such cells could be used to treat disease. We are nowhere near solving the problems of how to get these cells to do what we would like them to do, because it is so insanely fucking difficult to get them to begin with, and if you think that this has nothing to do with the religious nutcases, you are oblivious to reality.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, 2010 @03:05PM (#33546972)

    I have never heard of any group, religious nut cases or otherwise, protesting adult stem cell research. Quite the opposite. One of the principal arguments made by those who oppose embryonic stem cell research is that the same or better treatments can be accomplished through adult stem cell research. In fact, virtually all therapeutic procedures that have so far been developed from stem cells have involved the use of adult stem cells.

    I support embryonic stem cell research. But unless and until someone comes of with an actual treatment using embryonic stem cells that cannot be duplicated with adult stem cells, then embryonic stem cell research will be a dead end study. With embryonic stem cells, you will always have the substantial danger of immunological rejection. With your own adult stem cells, there is no danger of rejection.

  • by mibe (1778804) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @03:24PM (#33547188)
    Embryonic SC restrictions necessitated adult stem cell research, they didn't interfere with it. However, SC research as a whole was slowed down because of these restrictions. I'm not making a moral argument, it is just the inescapable conclusion that restricting use of embryonic SCs so heavily resulted in a much slower rate of advancement of stem cell technologies and treatments. We no longer had the ability to work with those versatile cells that were already available (once again, moral concerns aside, they weren't being used and were in many cases destined for destruction anyway; nobody was getting women pregnant with the express purpose of destroying the resulting conceptus for research purposes) and so had to develop wholly new techniques to generate these cells. It set us back.
  • by priegog (1291820) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @03:27PM (#33547224)

    The embryonic stem cells ban didn't apply to the rest of the world, and still no therapies have derived from embryonic stem cells (wan't there a site devoted to reporting in these?). There are, however, a couple of therapies derived from adult stem cells, both from the US and from other countries.
    Restricting science is short-sighted and all, but I never really cared for research coming from embryonic stem cells (it just seemed the WRONG approach altogether, when any resulting therapy would need to have the patient placed on lifelong immunosupression, like any transplant patient; but feel free to call me shortsighted).
    You also need to consider that Bush's ban allowed for research to continue on EXISTING cell lines, and those were pretty plentiful (you know, being stem cells and as such immortal).

    I just feel the level of outrage on this particular issue has been very disproportionate; and that it has turned more into an anti-religious argument than a pro-science one.

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