Scientists discover new value in wisdom teeth that could one day save your life

Sunday, November 07, 2010 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: wisdom teeth, stem cells, health news

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(NaturalNews) A new study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry reveals an interesting new medical fact about wisdom teeth. Far from being a useless annoyance, wisdom teeth actually hold valuable tissues inside them that are capable of creating therapeutic stem cells. In the event that a person needs them, such stem cells could be used to regrow needed tissues and organs or to treat debilitating diseases

In 2006, researchers first discovered that certain genes in adult cells could be reprogrammed to once again express themselves as fresh stem cells. Induced-pluripotent stem cells (iPS), as they are called, have great therapeutic potential because they can be instructed to develop into virtually any needed adult stem cells, which can be used to promote healing.

But obtaining iPS is difficult because they must be extracted from viable sources, most of which are not easily accessible. Bone marrow contains the necessary cells, but extracting from it is a laborious process. And skin cells, which are the easiest to obtain, do not possess a very strong programming capability.

Researchers from Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science discovered that wisdom teeth contain considerably viable "starter" cells. And since most people in developed nations get their wisdom teeth removed anyway, the process of obtaining them is simpler than it is from practically any other source.

For the study, Hajime Ohgushi and his team gathered samples from the wisdom teeth of three donors and used them to generate iPS. In some cases, the cells proliferated 100 times more efficiently than those derived from skin, and they were capable of forming a variety of different adult cell lines. Wisdom teeth can also be frozen for several years after being extracted, allowing their valuable pulp to be stored for potential future use.

All in all, the breakthrough research advances the cause of non-controversial iPS treatments, which show incredible promise in helping the body to heal itself.

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