A newly-discovered stem cell population associated with tooth development
Stem cells promise a sort of biological alchemy – the ability to create almost anything from a generic starting point. They're cells of almost unlimited potential, and have researchers and doctors alike excited at the prospect of engineering new tissue to repair or replace damaged or aged material in the body. But harnessing their full potential is challenging, and not all stem cells are the same. Their location in the body can dictate their ultimate use. Now a study has discovered a new population in teeth. These stem cells (picture in green, migrating through a mouse tooth section) multiply to help form dentin – the tough material that covers teeth. The study also identified a key gene involved in these cells’ production and regulation, raising hopes that we may one day be able to control them, calling them into action to tackle tooth decay or damage.
Written by Anthony Lewis
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.