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Are Root Canals Headed for Obscurity? Stem Cell Study Indicates Maybe So
Date:6/12/2013

Durham, NC (PRWEB) June 12, 2013

Scientists report in the current issue of STEM CELLS Translational Medicine that they are close to developing a new and effective way to treat tooth decay that fully restores the tooth rather than requires it to be filled, capped or extracted. The method, which uses stem cells, could prove especially useful in treating the kinds of cavities leading to that most dreaded and painful procedure — the root canal.

“Dental cavities and inflammation of the surrounding pulp is a challenging public health issue, as tooth decay not only can cause a patient great pain but it also can lead to other serious health issues including heart disease,” explained Misako Nakashima, DDS, Ph.D., of the National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology in Obu, Japan. “Generally we treat deep cavities by capping the tooth and removing any inflamed pulp surrounding it. But this has limited success and the problem frequently progresses until the tooth must be removed.”

In this newest study, conducted by Dr. Nakashima and several of her NCGG colleagues along with scientists from Shin Nippon Biomedical Laboratories in Kagoshima and from the School of Dentistry at Aichi-gakuin University in Nagoya, the goal was to test a stem cell-based therapy that would regenerate the dentin-pulp complex and, consequently, totally restore the tooth’s structure and function. At the same time, they wanted to assess the safety of pulp stem cell transplantation in humans as a prelude to upcoming clinical trials.

They began by performing root canals on a group of 18 dogs, collecting the pulp stem cells and then treating them in the lab with a growth factor called granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF). They then transplanted the treated cells back in the dogs, with each animal receiving its own cells to reduce the chance of rejection.

“Other studies demonstrated the therapeutic effects and safety of mesench
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