With a simple, low-power laser, Harvard University scientists have triggered naturally occurring dental stem cells to regrow teeth in rats. The work is a step toward developing a new form of dental therapy that could be used in people, but also represents a broader shift in thinking about how to trigger the body’s natural regenerative capacity.
In the new research, described in the journal Science Translational Medicine on Wednesday, scientists injured two rat molars, side by side, and then administered the laser treatment to only one tooth. After a single, five-minute laser treatment, they saw twice the amount of regeneration as on the untreated tooth.
“There have been lots of anecdotal reports that laser treatment can trigger regeneration, but it has been unclear how reproducible it is,” said David Mooney, a professor of bioengineering at Harvard who led the work.
The researchers also began to untangle how the laser treatment worked, by triggering a molecular chain of events within the tissue. Those insights suggest, more broadly, that stem cell therapies may not always require creating cells and grafting them back into the body, but could also include triggering cells in the body to form new tissue.
Read the full, original story: Laser light triggers stem cells to regrow teeth