Imperial College London is on a hunt to harvest the milk teeth of the country’s children to raise awareness for the potential of adult stem cells in what it is calling “molar power”.
An artist, Gina Czarnecki, is teaming up with Imperial’s stem cell biologist Professor Sara Rankin to encourage kids to submit their baby teeth. Partly they want to raise awareness about the different sources of stem cells that can be found in the human body, as well as “questioning contemporary belief systems that dismiss age0old myth and folklore.”
Imperial says that adult stem cells can be extracted from baby teeth – which can then be used in a regenerative way to grow new teeth, along with the possibility of heart, bone and nerve tissue.
The idea, says Rankin, is that stem cell growth is shrouded in ethical debates about growth. But the fact that stem cells can be extracted from bone marrow or umbilical cords, or milk teeth, keeps the controversial practice free of stormy ethical debates.
Imperial has a website, palaces.org.uk, where a form can be filled in to send in a baby tooth.
They’ll also get a Tooth Fairy token to leave under their pillow, although they may find themselves let down and/or terrified when a group of lab-coated professors rush in at midnight.