Skip to main content
Local News

ISCRM and the UW School of Dentistry Reveal Important New Findings about the Nature of Stem Cells in Human Teeth

By March 1, 2019No Comments

Long before Hannele Ruohola-Baker became a leading stem cell researcher, she was a young hockey player skating on the frozen ponds of her native Finland. When she was ten years old, she lost a tooth to an errant puck. “I’d say that’s when my interest in regenerating teeth began,” says Dr. Ruohola-Baker, now a Professor of Biochemistry and Associate Director of the UW Medicine Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine (ISCRM).

Today, it is common knowledge that adult stem cells are active throughout the human body, helping to maintain organ functioning and regenerate tissue growth after injury. As we age, stem cells begin to regenerate more slowly. This is essentially what getting older means. We break down more often – and recover more slowly.

Many years after her hockey career ended, Dr. Ruohola-Baker, and her team at ISCRM, set out to investigate the nature of stem cells in teeth. What kinds of stem cells exist in teeth? What are the characteristics of these stem cells? Can the onset of aging be predicted or prevented? And, is it possible to manipulate them for use in actual treatments?