Researchers Force Stem Cells to Repair Teeth

Using low-powered light, researchers at Harvard University have found a way to coax stem cells to regenerate tooth tissue (it's denser than regular tissue).
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Using low-powered light, researchers at Harvard University have found a way to coax stem cells to regenerate tooth tissue (it's denser than regular tissue).
teeth

Photo Credit: © Bartkowski - Fotolia.com

A team of researchers from Harvard University has developed a way to get teeth to repair themselves. By using a low-powered laser, the researchers were able to trigger stem cell regeneration in tooth tissue. This development could help to lay the foundation for other applications in restorative dentistry and regenerative medicine as a whole. 

Currently, regeneration methods require scientists to isolate stem cells from the body, manipulate them in a lab, and return them to the body restored. 

regenerating teeth

Photo Credit: Harvard’s Wyss Institute and SEAS

“Our treatment modality does not introduce anything new to the body, and lasers are routinely used in medicine and dentistry, so the barriers to clinical translation are low,” said David J. Mooney, the lead researcher on the project. “It would be a substantial advance in the field if we can regenerate teeth rather than replace them.” 

The lead author of the study, dentist Praveen Arany, began the experiments by testing the stem cell regeneration on rodents. Arany treated holes in teeth with low doses of laser treatments and temporary caps. Twelve weeks later, he found the treatment had triggered enhanced dentin formation. 

Arany hopes to move to human clinical trials next. He is currently working with the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research to outline safety and efficacy parameters.