Dental Stem Cells Show Potential as Stroke Treatment


Neuron-like appearance of dental stem cell following the induction process.  Image: Dr. Kylie Ellis

May 1, 2014 - A new study led by Dr. Kylie Ellis of the University of Adelaide in Australia has found that dental stem cells have potential for use with treatments of brain disorders such as a stroke - even months or years after the stroke has occured.  The successful pre-clinical results were published in the journal Stem Cell Research & Therapy.  

"The reality is," says Dr. Ellis, "treatment options to the thousands of stroke patients every year are limited."

She explains that the main available drug treatment has to be dispensed within hours of a stroke, but, unfortunately, most people do not seek help immediately after a stroke occurs.

Dr. Ellis and her team discovered that mouse-derived dental stem cells can be developed into cells closely resembling neurons.  She and her colleagues accomplish this transformation by creating an environment for the cells as close to the normal brain environment as they possibly can.  She adds that "instead of becoming cells for teeth, they become brain cells."

Dr. Ellis and her team would like to have the capability to use a patient's own stem cells for "tailor-made brain therapy that doesn't have the host rejection issues commonly associated with cell-based therapies."

In addition, their work with dental pulp stem cells creates the potential for exploring other common brain disorders in search of new treatments.

"What we developed wasn't identical to normal neurons," says Dr. Ellis, "but the new cells shared very similar properties to neurons. They also formed complex networks and communicated through simple electrical activity, like you might see between cells in the developing brain."

To find out more about this study and other research involving dental stem cells, please ask Dr. Graber or visit the dental stem cell section of  Dr. Graber was among the first dentists in the country to partner with StemSave to bank dental stem cells. To date, several patients have chosen to store their dental stem cells for potential use in repairing the body.

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