Another way to preserve your stem cells

Dental Stem Cell Banking is the new option available for those who want to save their stem cells

By Elton Pinto

When one talks of stem cells, the most well known source is the umbilical cord. For those of us who’ve not had the chance to preserve stem cells at that time in life (namely because the technology was unheard of then) might feel like we've have lost a opportunity to protect ourselves from all those diseases that stem cell therapy promises to treat and cure; including: diabetes, heart diseases and other conditions such as liver cirrhosis, paralysis, bone disorders like osteoarthritis, blood-related diseases like leukemia, Alzheimer, Parkinson’s and many other such impairments.

For a long time, umbilical cord and bone marrow were considered as the only sources for stem cells. However, in the recent times there have been multiple proven sources of stem cells, one of them being the tooth. And this is how dental stem cell banking came into being. Dental stem cells are adult stem cells found in both baby teeth and permanent teeth including wisdom teeth.

Dr Medha Pethe, dental surgeon explains, “Dental stem cells have demonstrated interactivity with biomaterials, making them ideal for tissue reconstruction. Dental Pulp stem cells are expandable, i.e., they can be multiplied under controlled conditions. Various scientific studies have demonstrated that today Dental stems have immense potential to treat certain cancers, heart diseases and can also be used to grow replacement bone and teeth, cartilage and muscle. These stem cells have displayed the ability to produce liver cells too. Dental Pulp stem cells secrete neurotrophic factors beneficial for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases and the repair of motor neurons following injury”

How the cells are collected

The collection of dental pulp stem cells is a non-invasive process, easy and in most cases, painless. Dental stem cell banking offers multiple opportunities for collection of the prospective teeth. Dental stem cells are found in milk teeth of children aged 6-12 years and in healthy wisdom teeth of young adults aged 30 or more. For children over the age of 12 years and for teens the opportunity to bank dental stem cells arises especially when they are undergoing any orthodontic procedures where healthy teeth are removed to apply braces, etc. Premolar teeth and any other permanent teeth removed for these purposes too are rich sources of stem cells.

Available in India

Stemade Biotech offers dental stem cell banking via its Stemade Smile Clinics. Shailesh Gadre, Managing Director, Stemade Biotech explains, “So far more than 400 people have undergone stem cell preservation process via this method. However, so far no candidate who has banked dental stem cells has reclaimed his / her sample back for therapy. We believe this to be a fortunate occurrence since nobody would want anyone to fall ill or suffer from a debilitating disease. Also, another important reason for this could be that people generally take this to be form of bio-insurance and may be useful to them particularly when they grow old and the chances of developing a particular disease increases. Moreover, the technology is relatively new having been developed internationally only by 2007 whilst Stemade takes pride to bring this technology to India by 2009.”

The total cost of the procedure varies depending upon the age of the candidate and for how long does he / she wishes to preserve the cells for. Broadly, registration and processing would cost around Rs 60,000 and storage of cells cost Rs 6000 per year.

Dental Stem cell banking has the following unique advantages and benefits:

  • The time period for banking healthy dental stem cells is far better, since it can be done for children between 5-12 years old, teenagers undergoing orthodontic (braces) treatment for their teeth and extracting sound non-decayed teeth and adults extracting their wisdom tooth
  • Since there is a wider scope to bank stem cells within the family, there are higher chances of finding a perfect match for your child, as well as a match for close relatives like siblings, parents, grandparents, uncles/aunts.
  • Compared to other types of stem cells, collection of dental stem cells is easy, painless, quick, highly efficient and has no ethical complications.
  • Dental stem cells are non-controversial adult stem cells, unlike questionable embryonic stem cells
  • Proven interactivity with biomaterials makes them ideal for tissue reconstruction.

 Picture credit: gökçe özaslan

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Dr Rishma Pai


She is a consultant gynaecologist at Jaslok and Lilavati Hospital.

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