Stem cells are one of the most promising medical discoveries, and they no doubt have the potential to cure many diseases. Many researchers study this area intensively and recently one team of researchers have made a breakthrough. King’s College London is a leading research university that was behind this discovery. They have discovered a way to “energize” the stem cells to fill in cavities, cracks or chips that may affect the teeth. The promise of this breakthrough will make dental cement obsolete, if it gets as far as it can. Dental cement is notoriously inconsistent and has come under fire for how it can fail at times; along with the fact it prevents the tooth from returning to its normal self. Currently the work has been conducted in mice so far, but researchers have found some methods to conduct this on humans. This will be done through a drug.
By showing the potential of how stem cells in the tooth can be stimulated in such a way, chances are that stem cells in other parts of the body can be stimulated as well. To be able to stimulate where the stem cell actually is rather than taking it out, shows just how far stem cell research could take us. Stem cells are found deep inside, and they could produce new dentin, which is the tissue beneath the enamel. At the moment the tooth can only reiterate minor amounts of dentin, and with major incidents, it cannot make up the entire tooth. The research team at KCL discovered molecules, that boosted the stem cells’ ability to stimulate production of dentin, much more than it can do on a normal basis.
The actual research involved tiny holes drilled into mice’s molars to expose the teeth’s pulp. This is where the stem cells are found, and by using a sponge drenched with the boosting molecule inhibitor (GSK-3), cover the tooth. The process took 6 weeks, and showed significant growth with the dentin. Methods of natural repair have been shown. However more studies on rats will take place to ensure that enough dentin can be manufactured to fill larger holes, before studies on humans will take place. There is major promise into how stem cells can change the world of health and medicine.