Tooth fairy loses out for sake of stem cells
The tooth fairy has a new rival for your children’s baby teeth.
Stem cell storage pioneer and Europe’s first accredited family stem cell bank, Future Health BIOBANK, is now offering parents the opportunity of having the cells contained in their children’s first teeth frozen and stored for potential future medical use should they or a close relative fall seriously ill.
Just like umbilical cord tissue, a tooth’s dental pulp contains a special type of stem cells, known as Mesenchymal stem cells.
These cells have the ability to turn themselves into bone, cartilage, muscle and tendon. They therefore hold the prospect of one day being able to help repair joints, heart valves and even damaged nerves.
They also appear to have immunosuppressive properties which may be able to combat chronic inflammation and eventually treat conditions such as arthritis.
Following almost a decade of successfully storing thousands of cord blood stem cell samples for parents across the world, Future Health BIOBANK have developed the technology and expertise to safely collect and preserve these building blocks of life so that they can be ready for use at any time in the next 20-25 years.
Announcing the new service, Steve Baines, Future Health’s Commercial Director said: ‘For those families who missed the opportunity to store their child’s umbilical cord stem cells at birth, saving first teeth provides a second chance to capture those precious stem cells that may one day be a health lifeline.’
The collection process
A child’s first teeth are normally lost between the ages of 6 and 12 years old. Ideally, the tooth should be wobbly and able to be gently pulled out rather than allowed to fall out by itself; teeth that have fallen out and so lost their blood supply may have a lower volume of stem cells.
It is therefore best to have a Future Health BIOBANK collection kit ready in advance. Once out, the tooth needs to be put into the special collection kit and sent off, along with a small blood sample from the child and a completed short health questionnaire, to the company’s Nottingham laboratory within 72 hours of the tooth coming out.
As soon as it arrives, the tooth is assessed to ensure that it is healthy enough and contains viable dental pulp for stem cell collection. If all is well, the dental pulp will then be extracted and separated from all the other parts of the tooth.
After only a few days, the stem cells will be examined through a microscope to check they are stable and then they can be prepared for cryogenic (deep) freezing and long term storage.
Adult teeth, too
Some adult teeth, including wisdom teeth, can also be accepted for processing and storage as they contain the same Mesenchymal stem cells in their dental pulp.
These teeth, however, must be healthy and free from decay and infection otherwise the stem cells inside will not be viable for preservation.
More information on tooth cell and umbilical cord storage is available by contacting Future Health at www.futurehealthbiobank.com or by calling the 24hr customer care line on 0800 954 5335.