The news and mass media are all talking about stem cells, and the controversial experiments surrounding them, and their healing effects. Research into these cells started in the 60s, and Canadian researchers Ernest A. McCulloch and James E. Till are the godfathers of this amazing phenomenon. These cells are used when cancer rears its ugly head, but the journals Science and Nature are constantly full of newer and newer ways to utilize them. They may well be the future cures of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes, stroke, and muscle atrophy as well.
Recently, researchers have found that stem cells can help you with a deformed jawbone as well, and treating the jaw with this kind of solution involves much less pain and is not as invasive as orthognathic surgery either.
Stem cells are present in most living organisms. What makes them special is that they multiply mitotically, this way they remain unspecialized, and they can turn into any cell of any tissue in the body. This is how the cells that get used up get replaced. Right now we are aware of three ways that stem cells can be harnessed that can provide us with useful stem cells ethically. One is the blood gained from the umbilical cord. This blood can be gained after birth, and the procedure is pain and risk free. Bone marrow also has stem cells in it, ones that usually become red and white blood cells as well as hemoglobin. This is usually gained from the hip bones or from the collarbone, and the procedure is done under local anaesthetic. Peripheral blood also has stem cells, but they needed to be treated before being useful.
A study involving 24 patients provided the final proof for the effectivity of stem cells. The study found that not only did stem cells work more effectively than any other bone regenerative treatment, but they were the one that involved the least amount of invasive surgery. The Dental College of Michigan worked with two research groups, and the goal was the regeneration of the jawbone after an extraction. Half of the patients received bone regenerative treatments, while the other half got stem cell treatments.
The stem cells used were harvested from the hip bones of the patients, which were then treated with Aanstrom treatments. This treatment makes the existing stem cells reproduce, and thus they were able to implant the stem cells into the patient’s tissues. According to Dr Darnell Kaigler, this method is important, as replacing missing teeth or pieces of the jaw is very difficult, particularly when one wants an aesthetic solution as well as a functional one. The stem cells can heal the jaw so perfectly that after treatment, the insertion of a dental implant, for example, is simply not a problem.
if the patient is suffering from a birth defect, or a trauma, then treatment becomes very complicated, as bone, gums, skin and internal tissues may all be affected. Stem cell therapies are very effective in these cases, and one of the main bonuses of this therapy is that it does not involve artificial materials, and the patient is allowed to regenerate using their own cells.
The group who underwent stem cell therapy received dental implants after 6 and 12 weeks of waiting. These patients healed much quicker, and developed higher bone density than their counterparts who were treated with the regular bone augmentation methods, and the group given the stem cells very rarely needed any secondary bone enhancement. The researchers said the results are very hopeful, put the treatment itself is still in its infancy, and they still need at least 5 to 10 years of clinical trials before a method can truly arise. Once it has though, birth defects and facial traumas will also be curable with stem cells, although a lot of experimentation still needs to be done.
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