A team of Japanese researchers say they have created stem cells from wisdom teeth, an advance which could potentially help scientists find cures for fatal diseases.
Lead researcher Hajime Ogushi of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology told AFP that the breakthrough is significant because it avoids the ethical issues that have arisen from using human embryos in the same way.
"Wisdom teeth are destined to be thrown away anyway," he said. "Because extractions of wisdom teeth are commonly operated in dental clinics, we can expect a lot of donors of stem cells."
The scientists were able to successfully use teeth that had been preserved for three years, suggesting that the donor bank will be easy to maintain.
In 2005, Dr Pamela Gehron Robey of the National Institutes of Health raised the issue of using wisdom teeth for stem cells at an American Dental Association conference.
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