Royan to Launch Dental Pulp Stem Cell Bank

Royan to Launch Dental Pulp Stem Cell BankRoyan to Launch Dental Pulp Stem Cell Bank

Since its establishment over 25 years ago, the Royan Institute, research and educational center has successfully provided treatment for several diseases using stem cell therapy. It has also provided high-tech infertility treatment to many couples.  

The institute is now planning to launch a dental pulp stem cell bank soon, Dr. Morteza Zarrabi, director of Royan said, ISNA reported.

Dental pulp stem cells (DPSCs) are stem cells present in the dental pulp, the soft living tissue within teeth. They are multi-potent, so they have the potential to differentiate into a variety of cell types. Other sources of dental stem cells are the dental follicle and the developed periodontal ligament.

“The stem cells are present in children’s wisdom teeth pulp and have been shown to be able to differentiate into bone, dental tissue, cartilage, and muscle. There is evidence that they may be able to differentiate into neural tissue,” Zarrabi said.

If parents missed the chance to store their babies’ umbilical cord blood, “they may want to consider the range of potential applications that may be possible with stem cells from children’s baby teeth,” he added.

Pointing to the umbilical cord blood bank which was launched by the institute in 2011 he said so far nearly 5,000 samples of umbilical cord blood have been stored in the institute’s public bank and 60,000 samples in its private bank.

He urged parents to store umbilical blood samples. “Umbilical cord blood is a valuable source of hematopoietic stem cells which can be used for treatment of many malignant diseases such as leukemia.”

So far hundreds of transplants have been performed using stem cells from such blood, which is easy and risk free, he added.

  Prominent Achievements

So far, 684 and 316 articles by the institute have been published in ISI and national journals, respectively.  The institute has also conducted 616 national and international research projects.

Some of the institute’s prominent achievements during the last few years include ovarian tissue freezing (to preserve the fertility of young women undergoing cancer chemotherapy and radiation) in 2011, generation of retinal pigment epithelial cells from human embryonic stem cell in 2012, and conducting pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) for thalassemia for the first time in the country in 2012.

Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is a procedure that allows embryos to be tested for genetic disorders before conception. The method is used in many infertility clinics.

“Embryos obtained by in vitro fertilization (IVF) undergo a biopsy procedure in which one or two cells are removed and tested for a specific disorder. If the cell is unaffected, the embryo from which it was taken is judged to be free of the disorder. The embryo can then be transferred to the uterus to initiate pregnancy,” said Dr Mohammad Mahdi Akhundi, head of Avicenna Infertility Clinic in Tehran.

Each PGD costs more than $1000 and also can be used for sex selection. At times couples use gender selection to help prevent serious genetic diseases and chromosomal disorders that are gender-specific. For example, sex-linked diseases like muscular dystrophy and hemophilia that are inherited via the mother will only affect male offspring. In addition, conditions like Fragile X or autism are often present more severely in one gender than in the other,” he pointed out.

  First Infertility Treatment Center

Royan Institute was established in 1991 as a clinical, research and educational center dedicated to improving medical care by conducting biomedical, translational and clinical researches with the aim of providing treatment services to infertile couples and to conduct basic and applied research on human and animal cells.  

The first IVF baby in Iran was born in 1992 at Royan in Tehran. Three years later in 1995, the first successful live birth from a frozen embryo was reported by the institute. A year after that, a woman in Tehran received the country’s first Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) (this method involves injecting a single sperm directly into an egg in order to fertilize it).

Royan institute has 46 scientific members and 186 lab technicians. It consists of three research wings, each focused on different fields of research: stem cell biology and technology; reproductive biomedicine; and animal biotechnology.