A new approach to anchor teeth back in the jaw using stem cells have been developed and been successfully tested in the laboratory for the first time by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The new strategy represents a potential major advance in the battle against gum disease. About 80% of U.S. adults suffer from gum disease according to The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Researchers in UIC’s Brodie Laboratory for Craniofacial Genetics used stem cells obtained from the periodontal ligament of molars extracted from mice, expanded them in an incubator, then seated them on barren rat molars. The stem cell treated molars were reinserted into the tooth sockets of rats. After four months, the stem cells aligned and formed new fibrous attachments between the tooth and bone. Tissue sections showed that the replanted tooth was surrounded by newly formed, functional periodontal fibers and new cementum, which is the outer surface of the tooth root. In contrast, molars that were replanted without new stem cells were either lost or loosely attached and resorbed. The study, published in an online issue of the journal, “Tissue Engineering “, was funded through a grant by the National Institutes of Health. To verify that the ligament was formed by the transplanted stem cells and not by the animal’s own cells, stem cells were labeled with green fluorescent protein. According to researchers, this strategy could be used for replanting teeth that were lost due to trauma or as a novel approach for tooth replacement using tooth shaped implants.