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Dental Cool: Stem Cell Therapy Could Offer New Hope for Defects and Injuries to Head, Mouth

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In the first human study of its kind, researchers from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry and the Michigan Center for Oral Health Research partnered with Ann Arbor-based Aastrom Biosciences in the clinical trial, which involved 24 patients who required jawbone reconstruction after tooth removal.

Patients either received experimental tissue repair cells or traditional guided bone regeneration therapy. The tissue repair cells, called ixmyelocel-T, are under development at Aastrom, which is a U-M spinout company.

"In patients with jawbone deficiencies who also have missing teeth, it is very difficult to replace the missing teeth so that they look and function naturally," said Darnell Kaigler, principal investigator and assistant professor at the U-M School of Dentistry. "This technology and approach could potentially be used to restore areas of bone loss so that missing teeth can be replaced with dental implants."

William Giannobile, director of the Michigan Center for Oral Health Research and chair of the U-M Department of Periodontics and Oral Medicine, is co-principal investigator on the project.
The treatment is best suited for large defects such as those resulting from trauma, diseases or birth defects, Kaigler said. These defects are very complex because they involve several different tissue types--bone, skin, gum tissue--and are very challenging to treat.

The main advantage to the stem cell therapy is that it uses the patient's own cells to regenerate tissues, rather than introducing human-made, foreign materials, Kaigler said.
 

The results were promising. At 6 and 12 weeks following the experimental cell therapy treatment, patients in the study received dental implants. Patients who received tissue repair cells had greater bone density and quicker bone repair than those who received traditional guided bone regeneration therapy.

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-Jason Schwartz

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