You read that right. Although Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) has nothing to do with teeth, researchers are developing a new approach to studying CMT1A starting with wisdom teeth. It might sound strange at first, but this is a CMT research opportunity you don’t want to miss.

With a $98,890 grant from the Charcot-Marie-Tooth Association (CMTA), researchers at the Hasselt University in Belgium, led by Esther Wolfs, PhD, are using dental pulp from donated wisdom teeth to develop a new model of CMT1A that researchers can use for studying this subtype in the laboratory and for testing potential treatments.

What Do Wisdom Teeth Have to Do With CMT Research?

Dental pulp is the innermost layer of a tooth. This innermost layer contains specialized stem cells called Human Dental Pulp Stem Cells (hDPSC). Researchers discovered that hDPSC are closely related to another specialized cell which is a precursor cell that becomes a Schwann cell as an embryo develops. Schwann cells are the specialized cells that make peripheral nerve myelin. In CMT1A, Schwann cells behave abnormally, leading to damaged myelin.

The researchers at Hasselt University have developed a fascinating method for converting hDPSC into functional Schwann cells. Using these hDPSC-derived Schwann cells, the researchers have successfully mimicked CMT1A by overexpressing PMP22 leading to the Schwann cells behaving just as they do in CMT1A.

What is This CMT Research Opportunity?

This CMT research opportunity is your chance to further the understanding of how CMT1A works by donating your wisdom tooth/teeth that you are scheduled to have extracted as part of your dental care. If your dentist has determined that a wisdom tooth/teeth must be extracted, you can donate the extracted tooth/teeth through this opportunity to the research team at Hasselt University in Belgium. Dr. Wolfs and her team will arrange for shipping at no cost to you. Any costs associated with the extraction, however, are not covered.

Where is This CMT Research Taking Place?

This CMT research is taking place in Belgium in the Functional Imaging & Research on Stem Cells (FIERCE) Laboratory, headed by Dr. Esther Wolfs, at the Biomedical Research Institute of Hasselt University. You do not have to live in Belgium and nor do you have to travel to Belgium to participate. The research team in Belgium will arrange for you to ship your wisdom tooth/teeth donation to them at no cost to you.

Who is Eligible to Participate in This CMT Research?

This research focuses on CMT1A, but the researchers are accepting wisdom teeth donations from anybody who is diagnosed with CMT. There are no age restrictions and there are no location restrictions. Every CMT community member can participate in this exciting research regardless of where you live and regardless of your age.

How Do I Participate in This CMT Research Opportunity?

To participate in this CMT research opportunity, contact Dr. Wolfs and her team via email prior to your scheduled wisdom tooth/teeth extraction. They will make all needed arrangements for sending your donation to their laboratory and they will cover all costs except the cost of the extraction. There are no packaging or shipping costs for you.

What Does This CMT Research Opportunity Mean for Me?

This CMT research opportunity is your chance to not only help increase the understanding of CMT but also to help accelerate advancements towards treatments and ultimately a cure for this disease.

The main goal of this CMT research project is to develop a laboratory model of CMT1A that researchers can use for testing new potential treatments, and these treatments might lead to a cure.

Knowledge gained from this CMT research project might extend to other CMT subtypes, including yours. No matter your CMT subtype, this project could lead to developments that might benefit you, so your participation is critically important even if you don’t have CMT1A.

Who Do I Contact to Donate My Wisdom Tooth to CMT Research?

Prior to your scheduled wisdom tooth/teeth extraction, please contact Dr. Wolfs and her research team by email: . They will arrange for all shipping to send your donation to their laboratory and at no cost to you, but you are responsible for any costs associated with the extraction.

The Charcot-Marie-Tooth Association (CMTA) is the global leader in innovative approaches to understanding CMT while working to develop treatments and ultimately a cure for this disease. This Patients as Partners in Research opportunity is another example of our leadership and of our commitment to create and explore new ways to carry out our community-led mission to support the development of new drugs to treat CMT, to improve the quality of life for people with CMT, and, ultimately, to find a cure.

Register With Patients as Partners in Research Today

Not yet registered with Patients as Partners in Research? Click the button below to register today! Registering ensures you are the first in line for any CMT research opportunity you might be eligible for and are interested in and registering will ensure you are kept up to date on all the latest news and developments in CMT research. Registration is free and all who have CMT are invited to join.

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Published: January 31, 2024