Philadelphia — Penn Dental Medicine hosted the inaugural Penn Stem Cell and Regenerative Dentistry Conference October 20 – 21, bringing together researchers and clinicians at the forefront of investigating dental stem cells and stem cell-based therapies.
The two-day program featured the state-of-the-art in dental stem cell research and the potential translational clinical applications. Along with Penn Dental Medicine faculty who are actively engaged in stem cell research, the program of speakers represented 10 other universities from across the country as well the United Kingdom and China. A poster session and junior investigator presentations supplemented the program.
Topics addressed by Penn Dental Medicine faculty highlighted key aspects of their ongoing research, including the following:
- peripheral nerve regeneration with orofacial stem cells by Dr. Anh Le (Dept. of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery),
- bone regeneration by Dr. Shuying (Sheri) Yang (Dept. of Anatomy & Cell Biology),
- regenerative endodontic procedures by Dr. Su-min Lee (Dept. of Endodontics), and
- dental stem cells in tissue regeneration by Dr. Songtao Shi (Dept. of Anatomy & Cell Biology).
Dr. Songtao Shi, Chair and Professor, Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology and one of the conference organizers, noted that dental stem cell-based therapies have been initiated in clinical trials, including for dental pulp and periodontal tissue regeneration. “Dental stem cell application represents the future of bio-dental therapies,” he says.
Other presentations and discussions ranged from stem cell therapies for autoimmune diseases, to the use of stem cells to make dentin.
‘The keynote address, titled “Overcoming Chromatin Barriers to Change Cell Fate,” was presented by Dr. Kenneth S. Zaret, Director of Penn’s Institute for Regenerative Medicine (IRM), which engages scientists, clinicians, and ethicists from medicine, engineering, veterinary sciences, dental medicine, and the arts and sciences.
“We are using the principles learned from the natural processes to generate new cells and tissue fragments in the laboratory and to control tissue regeneration in the body,” he says of IRM’s goal overall. “Our work is aimed to model and study human diseases, to develop new diagnostics and medicines, and, ultimately, to replace damaged, aged, or diseased body parts.”
Organizing the conference from Penn Dental Medicine along with Dr. Shi were Dr. Bekir Karabucak, Chair and Associate Professor of Endodontics and Dr. Syngcuk Kim, Louis I. Grossman Professor, Department of Endodontics.