Dental regenerative medicine is closer to commercial application than many other areas of this field:
The traditional root canal procedure involves removing decayed root tissue, or dental pulp, from the tooth's canal and filling that space with gutta percha, an artificial rubber-like substance. With Huang's new approach, the canals that have been cleared would be injected with stem cell tissue to stimulate healthy tissue growth, essentially rebuilding the tooth, and eliminating the need for gutta percha.
"Our group has been able to demonstrate that we can isolate stem cells from the pulp tissue, let them expand or grow in culture dishes, seed them onto artificial or natural scaffolding materials, and then insert them into the canal space. Using a small animal model, we were able to demonstrate that we can entirely regenerate pulp tissue in the empty canal space."
"The dentin can also be regenerated. The natural function of the pulp tissue is to maintain the homeostasis of the tooth and lay down the dentin structure to sustain the architecture of the tooth."
Similar research in other countries has been successful. Testing has now moved to larger animals, including pigs and dogs, and clinical trials on humans could begin in the next 10 years.