Stem cells are undifferentiated cells that can develop into cells that only produce particular specialised cells that have specific functions within the body. Stem cells ability to differentiate can vary whether it is embryonic or adult stem cells. Its ability to differentiate into a varied amount of multiple specialised cells, triggers interest as it can be utilised to combat diseases, cell degeneration and cancers, as the cells can be transcribed and translated into new proteins to replace the damaged cells. 6
Stem cells are so deeply integrated within our bodies that even if it is slightly altered it can cause life threatening deformities and disabilities. It also however, could be the saviour for multiple deformities that are caused within the body due to the intensity of its variability in the body. I will be exploring the different types of stem cells and its application in the field of dentistry.
Embryonic and Adult Stem Cells
Embryonic stem cells are extracted by taking totipotent cells from the inner cell in a blastoplast from Intro Vitro Fertilisation(IVF), IVF is the process where the haploid sperm and egg are fertilised outside the body, the totipotent cells are then cultured into more stem cells. These stem cells have a larger differentiation ability compared to adult stem cells as they can be converted to produce every specialised cell where as adult stem cells can only differentiate into a few. This therefore means that investigating and utilising embryonic stem cells are more vital as it can develop into any cell to combate a specific issue compared to adult stem cells that can only differicate into a selective few, adult stem cells be found in places such as the bone marrow. 67
The ethical issues when using embryonic stem cells is that it introduces the idea of destroying a potential life, this can go against multiple religious belief, as well as possibly being morally wrong in some people’s opinion. However scientist are utilising blastoplasts of embryonic matter from the surplus made during IVF, this is an effective way of making use of stem cells which in other situations will be wasted.
Using one’s own stem cells highly reduces risk of rejection due to them originating from their own body, this means an increased successive rate and a lower need to use highly medicated drugs to lower the effectiveness of the immune system that can make you susceptible to more viruses and diseases. This emphasises the crucial role of the development stem cell research has upon medicine. 6
Stem cells in dentistry
Stem cells can be found within the pulp in an extracted tooth, these stem cells are stored within the tooths inner layer. Stem cells found in teeth have been discovered to replicate and differicate at a faster rate compared to any other harvested stem cell that can be found. Many dental clinics now have an option to store a baby tooth, wisdom tooth or any healthy tooth for any future medical discoveries or healthy issues that may arise. This is due to the magnitude of its potential in treatments such as cardiac diseases, brain damage or injuries involving the nerves. Dental pulp has a lot of mesenchyme cells that develops into connective tissue this means if dental stem cells are stored from a young age it can be utilised to help with facial reconstruction and arthritis, a disease involved in the degeneration of cartilage between the bones. 3
A recent discovery by American Association for the Advancement of Science, has explored the use of an non ionizing low powered laser that can trigger the dental stem cells to replicate, in order to fill in any dental gaps within the teeth. They had performed a successful experiment on rat teeth to see the regrowth of one type of dental cell called dentin in the molar tooth of a rat, however a limitation of this practice is that it does not stimulate the stem cells to also specialise into other dental cells such as the hard enamel. 12
Another example of other associating experiments that may cause pivotal changes to dentistry is an investigation performed and practised by wei hsu, a scientist for oral health at the university of Rochester, who was curious and persistent in discovering possible cures for craniosynostosis. This is a condition which causes skull deformities in young children, triggering increased pressures to the brain. Treatments for such conditions are a predicament due to the difficulty identifying the complexities and mysteries associated with the gene that codes for facial bone regeneration and growth. However the discovery was made by Dr.Hsu that the gene Axin2 has a vital role in gene expression as its cell population contains particular stem cells specific to the growth of the skull and facial bones, different from other specialised stem cells that produce the remaining of the bones within the body. Axin2 was analysed to discover that it is critical in skull and facial regeneration. The result of this discovery meant that these any stem cell deformities that initiates a disorder, can be possibly cured by triggering these stem cells to regrow and replicate the facial bone around the skull and teeth. This makes it particularly useful for those who also have facial traumas or abnormalities on the face. 45
In summary, Stem cells have the potential to be the positive pivotal change in medicine and dentistry. This is due to its highly varied differentiating capabilities, that can then later be used to produce specialised proteins that target a specific issues. Stem cells is a growing and developing field in dentistry, which is being explored to reduce the needs of fillers with the uses of low ionizing lasers to stimulate the regrow of dentin, or the ability to trigger stem cells in the gene Axin2 to regrow or repair facial bone. The probable usefulness of stem cells in dentistry is highlighted by the fact that multiple dental clinics that have began the process of storing teeth in dental banks for the future, due to the stem cells stored within the tooth and its differentiation capabilities. This is in hopes that future discoveries will be able to cue illnesses or deformities within the body. To conclude, the research and development placed into stem cells is not one done in vain, it is important to identify that it is the key to the cure of multiple varied issues within the development of the human anatomy.