Busan English Radio Channel BeFM 90.5
Todays’s Topic : Stem-Cells
with Busan English Speaking Dentist
Hi, Tim, how are you?
I realized that through our meetings and discussions, all of the health related problems rarely end on a positive note. Usually I mention some concern and how to prevent or treat it. In fact, most oral health concerns are preventable with good oral hygiene. When talking just about the mouth, tooth loss is really the worst outcome related to oral hygiene. Any advice I can give is to prevent it or how to move on in life.
Our oral health and quality of life is closely linked to our dental health. As we get older, our teeth are more at risk of infection, wear, and damage. Today we don’t have a solution to tooth loss other than implants or dentures, each of which has their own negative aspects. There is hope however, stem cell research advances every day and could possibly provide solutions in the future.
So, an embryonic stem cell is special because they change into all the different types of cells in the body. They are
part of the natural growing process of the body and the research being done is to learn how to direct the cells to grow specific parts of the human body that someone may need. Embryonic stem cells are controversial because the current methods used to harvest them ends up destroying the embryo. The embryo is an organism that grows after an egg is fertilized, but before it becomes a fetus. Essentially the first trimester of pregnancy in humans is an embryo. The controversy lays in the opinion of whether or not an embryo is alive. This is hard to argue for or against.
There are other sources of stem cells that are free from the negative perception. Everyone continues to have stem cells in their body as they grow older; they are part of the natural healing and regeneration that our bodies perform every second. There are two main types
of stem cells: adult stem cells, and embryonic stem cells. Adult stem cells can be found in bone marrow and in teeth. Because we are focusing on
oral health, let’s focus on stem cells in the mouth. They can be found in the pulp which is a collection of nerve endings and blood vessels at the core of a tooth.
Tim, do you know anyone who has ever lost an adult tooth? Perhaps you are friends with professional hockey players?
Unfortunately humans aren’t able to naturally regrow their teeth. Sharks and snakes on the other hand have teeth waiting to replace a lost tooth like a
conveyer belt. If only we were more like sharks or snakes, we wouldn’t need dentists.
Good news though, adult stem cells can be used to grow new teeth. Scientists are developing an innovative
procedure that would use cells from adult patients to grow full functioning teeth at that location. The treatment is aiming to be done on mice within a few years, but there is still one last problem to solve.
Researchers are copying the natural growing process of teeth in a laboratory environment. Through this process they hope to someday be
able to grow new teeth from the patient’s own adult stem cells.
According to Professor Sharpe at the King’s College London Dental Institute, it is very easy to grow teeth from
embryonic cells in a lab environment but it is too expensive and still
controversial. Adult stem cells can be used but they require some chemicals, or growth factors. It is still difficult to send the signal
between adult stem cells in order to start the formation of a new tooth. Professor
Sharpe’s team of researchers says that they need to combine adult cells to grow
new teeth and it’s one of the last pieces of the puzzle.
Currently treatment for tooth loss is to surgically implant teeth or to use dentures, but these treatments don’t last
forever, and there are negative side effects to the jaw by not having real teeth. A new tooth being grown may cost
more, but if it can cost only two or three times as much, and never need to be replaced, people would consider it a
These adult stem cells have many more uses in the human body. Dental pulp stem cells can protect retinal
ganglion cells from death following an injury.
The loss of these retinal cells is the leading cause of blindness and can occur from injury or degenerative diseases like glaucoma. After an injury or because of a disease, an important chemical that supports the function of retinal ganglion cells is lost
and the cells die. Dental pulp stem cells however, act similarly to the supporting chemical and has been confirmed
to be able to replace it.
Do you know what a stroke is?
In order to recover from a stroke, what’s the window of opportunity for a person to be treated?
In fact, People only have a time frame of 3 hours in
order to receive a drug treatment to minimize the damage from a stroke. Most people aren’t able to receive that kind
of treatment so quickly and suffer serious consequences. Outside of that golden window, there are a
limited number of things that can be done for people who have suffered a
stroke. There is current research being
done that may offer hope for the future.
Successful pre-clinical studies on post-stroke recovery have been
increasing the interest in using dental pulp stem cells.
Dental pulp stem cells, when placed in an environment similar to the brain, develop
into cells much like neurons found in the brain. The cells can form complex networks but they
have yet to grow into full neurons.
Researchers believe that with time, and the right conditions, it will
Although many feel the study of stem cells is controversial, it isn’t always the
case. Wonderful things can be achieved
by studying or using adult stem cells from our teeth that causes no harm or
destruction. With this research many
currently untreatable diseases or complications can be treated such as
Parkinson’s disease, brain injuries, and heart disease. In order to be ready for these possible cures
in the future, we still need our teeth.
Without them you may be looking for stem cells in places harder to get
to. Without them, you may lose a great
advantage in treating possible problems in the future, so don’t forget to