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Role of Dental Stem Cells in Treating Type 1 Diabetes

October 11th, 2018

Type 1 Diabetes is a scary, often life-threatening disease that affects millions of Americans every year. As doctors work to make new breakthroughs in research and treatment, hope is on the horizon. According to new findings published in the Journal of Dental Research, scientists may have found the key to helping patients with type 1 diabetes: dental stem cell banking. This new form of treatment, known as encapsulation therapy, may help those with the disease begin producing insulin on their own.

The Disease

This scientific discovery is so important because so many people are impacted by this autoimmune disease that attacks the pancreas and disables the organ's ability to produce the insulin hormone. Insulin is essential in allowing the body to obtain energy from food, so type 1 diabetes can present many significant problems. An estimated 1.25 million Americans suffer from the disease, with about 200,000 of those people being 20 years old or younger, as reported by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. With so many people affected, it's fantastic news that stem cells from teeth could change the treatment game for good.

Brighter Future

Sadly, there is no known cure for type 1 diabetes, so patients need to keep up with their treatments such as insulin injection therapy, which replaces the deficiency caused by the malfunctioning or out-of-order pancreas. Many patients may need continuous insulin infusion via a pump, and must monitor their blood glucose levels every few hours to ensure they don't experience dangerous highs or lows. Now, a more comfortable and reliable treatment may be in the works, thanks to the stem cells in teeth!

Stem Cell Therapy

During encapsulation therapy, a tiny capsule with insulin-producing cells, referred to as beta cells or islets made from stem cells, are placed under the patient's skin. This capsule creates protection for the cells that make insulin, because the body will see them as a threat to the immune system as a result of diabetes' autoimmune impacts. Researchers are currently collecting the stem cells necessary for this treatment from baby teeth. It's possible for kids with diabetes to bank their stem cells by sending them off to a professional laboratory for processing, preservation and planning. So far, dental stem cells, which are very similar to mesenchymal stem cells with their ability to form connective tissues and bones such as skin, muscles, tendons and blood vessels. This way, these dental stem cells can protect patients and hopefully lead them toward a better future. Call the Tooth Bank today to learn more!