Everyone may be carrying a personal stem-cell bank in their wisdom teeth. Until now, most induced pluripotent stem cells have started from skin cells. But even though these are easy to procure, they are very low in reprogramming efficiency.
Researchers at Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology have found that wisdom teeth contain a soft pulp with mesenchymal stromal cells. These are similar to bone marrow cells, a common source for stem cells. But tooth pulp is obtained far more easily than bone marrow.
The researchers collected tooth samples from three donors and successfully generated a series of iPS cell lines by activating three key genes. One feature of the new technique was that they did not have to activate the c-MYC gene which can lead to the cells becoming cancerous.
This could have many therapeutic applications. The removal of wisdom teeth is very common in developed countries and provides a perfect opportunity for removing biological material in a sterilised setting - and the teeth can be frozen and stored for many years. ~ Journal of Biological Medicine, Sept 17