A team of scientists at Harvard have had some success as the first ever to use low powered light to trigger stem cell growth for tissue regeneration in the body, specifically dentin for teeth. This noninvasive therapy method could drastically change dental treatment and regenerative medicine. From Harvard News:
The team used a low-power laser to trigger human dental stem cells to form dentin, the hard tissue that is similar to bone and makes up the bulk of teeth. What’s more, they outlined the precise molecular mechanism involved, and demonstrated its prowess using multiple laboratory and animal models.
A number of biologically active molecules, such as regulatory proteins called growth factors, can trigger stem cells to differentiate into different cell types. Current regeneration efforts require scientists to isolate stem cells from the body, manipulate them in a laboratory, and return them to the body—efforts that face a host of regulatory and technical hurdles to their clinical translation. But Mooney’s approach is different and, he hopes, easier to get into the hands of practicing clinicians.
“Our treatment modality does not introduce anything new to the body, and lasers are routinely used in medicine and dentistry, so the barriers to clinical translation are low,” said Mooney, who is also a Core Faculty Member at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard. “It would be a substantial advance in the field if we can regenerate teeth rather than replace them.”