MONTEREY, Calif. - Cutting edge stem cell research is now leading to new lifesaving possibilities. A startup company, Stemodontics, harvests the stem cells from within teeth for future life saving treatment.
Stem cells from molars could potentially cure Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and diabetes as well as regrow bone and repair brain tissue.
Just last week, a Monterey oral surgeon, Dr. Ryan Lloyd, harvested cells from his 15-year-old son's wisdom teeth after his surgery.
Researchers say this revolutionary way of saving stem cells could be the easiest way to do it so far.
“That potential has the ability to regrow cartilage, bone, and from what researchers believe also neural tissue,” MOSA oral surgeon Dr. Ryan Lloyd said.
Researchers say stem cell biology has reached a point where lifesaving treatment for diseases is a possibility.
“If you had cells that potentially, as the science moves forward, could be used to repair replace or regenerate those tissues, why not bank them?” Stanford University stem cell biologist Dr. Michael Longaker said.
Stem cell harvesting through bone marrow or heart procedures can be complicated and painful, but grabbing the cells through teeth already removed requires no added complication.
“The benefit of taking stem cells from dental pulp cells is it's extremely easy and relatively painless,” Lloyd said.
The company Stemodontics, led by Bay Area researchers discovered this new way to harvest and say there's nothing to lose.
“At the end of the procedure, you could put your third molars in a box and send them to this company so the stem cells can derive, or you can throw them away,” Longaker said.
Lloyd says the wisdom teeth are best because extremely young stem cells can be harvested, which can be more beneficial in the future.
“Biology is exploding such that whatever types of cells are in your wisdom teeth in the future could be coached into other types of tissue that wouldn’t be obvious now,” Longaker said.
Lloyd's practice, MOSA Oral Surgery does offer patients the opportunity to bank their stem cells through Stemodontics. It costs a couple thousand dollars up front and then about $20 a month for as long as you store them.