How teeth fossils show the evolution of stem cells
You could well be aware by now of the possibilities that dental stem cells can offer, as news of the many new medical achievements are currently making waves all across the field of regenerative medicine and beyond. What you may not have an idea of is how we got to this point and how the study of fossilised teeth has opened up a new world of understanding around stem cells.
Scientists from universities based in both San Francisco and Helsinki have been analysing teeth collected from thousands of extinct rodent species to try to gain an insight into how fundamental evolutionary mechanisms in mammals cause the emergence of new stem cells.
The rodent species that have survived the millennia to be here today have front teeth that never stop growing. As the rodents are constantly gnawing food and objects for sources of nourishment, their crowns are continually replenished by this resource.
However, today only certain species have molars that are ever growing, but scientists have ascertained that rodents that do not continually grow their molars have the potential to evolve this ability. As a result, it is possible that continually growing teeth is a trait that is relatively simple to acquire via stem cells.
Using this knowledge, researchers realised that during evolutionary stages of complex traits displayed in adult stem cells, it is feasible to map out exactly what has happened during these changes caused by evolutionary pressures to adapt, and thus create a set of simulation models that are in fact reasonably easy to comprehend.
The researchers had a large sample size to play with, and they assessed the changes in teeth characteristics over 50 million years in North American rodents. Therefore, the researchers were able to ascertain if the fossil records showed distinct trends in terms of continuously growing molars, and as a result of this, how these findings are linked to the evolution of mammalian stem cell reservoirs, also known as niches.
This is a subject that not many have looked into previously, so new research into this area is set to provide some major insight into how our bodies regulate the behaviour of our stem cells. Since teeth are the only organs to survive fossilisation, dental stem cells are the only way to track stem cell behaviour over long periods.
The team working on this study discovered that once teeth begin to grow even slightly past the point classed as the norm, the direction towards ever-growing teeth sourced from stem cells becomes inevitable.
If you are interested in knowing more about what dental stem cells can do for you today, then look to market leaders BioEden, who can guide you through their comprehensive process.
There is no worry that ever-growing teeth will occur in humans, due to the lack of evolutionary need for our teeth to grow continuously. Nevertheless, this research provides startling insights into the science behind dental stem cell research and helps us to further understand the field.