from the mouths of babes

The tooth fairy had better start coughing up: Baby teeth may be worth a whole lot more than some spare change under the pillow. They’ve been found to contain a rich supply of stem cells, the powerful precursor cells of the body, which can evolve into any type of cell. According to a report published online last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from the National Institutes of Health have used the pulp inside shed baby teeth to successfully grow cells of nerves, fat and teeth. The stem cells also seem to grow faster and have more potential to differentiate into other cell types than adult stem cells. Dr. Songtao Shi, the senior author of the paper, stated in a press release: “Doctors have successfully harvested stem cells from umbilical cord blood for years. Our finding is similar in some ways, in that the stem cells in the tooth are likely latent remnants of an early developmental process.”

This news brief appeared in the Random Data column of the Boston Globe’s Health/Science section on 4/29/2003.
This entry was posted in boston globe, news briefs. Bookmark the permalink.