Until very recently development was considered something that moved strictly in one direction. While some had considered theories that other possibilities existed, evidence was few and far between. Until Igor Adameyko, a Stockholm, Sweden based developmental biologist working out of the Karolinska Institute, made a breakthrough that has shook these ideas to the bones. Adameyko has discovered that nervous system cells rather than remaining the same or dieing, transform back into stem cells making development something that now obviously moves in both directions. The unlikely places that this occurs, according to the researcher, is inside teeth. This may open up the door to stem cell exploration without the controversial nature of having to work with embryos, a method that has caused protests within some religious circles.
“Many people in the community were convinced that one cell type couldn’t switch to the other, but what we found is that the glial cells still very much maintain the capacity to become stem cells,” Adameyko commented. “If researchers can learn which chemical cues in the teeth pulp signal glial cells to transform into mesenchymal stem cells, they could have a new way to grow stem cells in the lab.”
According to the researcher, beyond obvious applications within dentistry, this information could very well lead to a wide range of uses touching many aspects of human health and wellness. It's very possible these stem cells could be used to help rebuild cartilage and bone, augmenting and speeding up the healing process system wide.
With this news and research in hand, reports are being received of follow up research to confirm these findings occurring world-wide, using varied techniques to check for possible errors. If, or when, this confirmation occurs a whole new world of possibilities for stem cell development may explode in use quickly as these new ideas are put into action.
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