In this interview with Tony Veverka, Chief Group Executive of BioEden, Mr. Veverka discusses how dental stem cells will impact our future. BioEden is a global stem cell storage company with laboratories in the UK and USA and sales operations in 19 countries. BioEden is also the world’s first international biobank company to collect, assess, and cryogenically store living stem cells from deciduous baby teeth.
Interview with Tony Veverka, Chief Group Executive of BioEden
Cade Hildreth: How did the dental stem cell industry come into existence?
Tony Veverka: In 2003, dentist and researcher Dr. Sontago Shi discovered stem cells within the pulp of his daughter’s naturally shed baby tooth. He wrote about this, which caught the interest of a number of parties. By chance, he also met Mike Byrom, the current Chief Science Officer at BioEden, during a stem cell lecture tour in the U.S.
Mr. Byrom had read various articles about this discovery, but as a result of this meeting, he developed a commercial process for harvesting stem cells from teeth that was later commercialized into BioEden’s technologies. Therefore, BioEden became the world’s first dental pulp stem cell bank in 2006.
Since that time, the market has slowly gathered momentum and other entrants have joined both the industry within the United States, Europe, and Asia.
Cade Hildreth: How did you become involved with BioEden and dental stem cell biobanking?
Tony Veverka: As mentioned, Mr. Byrom founded BioEden in Austin, Texas, as a result of this development. Today, BioEden operates in 25 countries and has members in over 60 countries. I became involved with BioEden and dental stem cell banking around 2 years ago when I invested in the business and joined the board as CEO.
My background is a commercial one, as I functioned as a CEO/General Manager with a marketing background for a number of years, predominately within the healthcare services industry. BioEden interested me, because I thought it was a compelling proposition that has huge potential globally.
Cade Hildreth: What are the advantages of dental stem cells relative to other stem cell types?
Tony Veverka: Stem cells harvested from the dental pulp within teeth have many advantages over other types of stem cells. They are not limited to the amount collected from the tooth, because they can be expanded within a laboratory or medical facility. They have the ability to ‘morph’ into many other cell types, and in this regard, have a wider range of potential applications than most other cell types.
Cells harvested from baby teeth are at their optimum best, because they have been harvested when they are young, vibrant, healthy, and full of functionality. Finally, harvesting from the tooth provides the only non-invasive method of collecting stem cells, because no medical or dental intervention is required as the tooth can be exfoliated naturally.
Cade Hildreth: What do you see as the future or dental stem cells 5 to 10 years from now?
Tony Veverka: I am constantly asked, “When will a therapy for xyz become available?” If I had a crystal ball, I would purchase a winning lottery ticket. It is impossible to say when something will become available, because there are too many unknowns in the process and most of the unknowns are outside of our sphere of influence. Regulatory considerations by country, funding issues, patent and other intellectual property rights, therapeutic partners, approval by insurance companies for treatment, and hundreds of other issues must all be addressed.
Regardless, I know that stem cells harvested from teeth are capable of amazing things, things that currently seem impossible to achieve. In this context, I believe that we will see a continual string of new approved therapies involving the use of stem cells (including those harvested from teeth) over the next 10 years and beyond. People will become accustomed to their use and will look to stem cells as their treatment of choice for many conditions.
Cade Hildreth: How are dental stem cells currently being explored in clinical trials?
Tony Veverka: There are a significant number of clinical trials taking place that involve tooth-derived stem cells. I have listed some of them in this list of peer-reviewed publications highlighting the use of dental pulp stem cells (DPSC). However, this is by no means an exhaustive list.
Cade Hildreth: BioEden recently released a dental stem cell unit for use in treating a diabetic patient. Could you share more about this landmark event?
Tony Veverka: I’m including here a summary document about the outcome for the first diabetic patient treated with dental stem cells stored by BioEden. It is the story of his recovery and improvement following a treatment that involved his own dental stem cells.
Cade Hildreth: What are advantages of storing dental stem cells with BioEden and what markets do you serve?
Tony Veverka: As the world’s first tooth cell bank, BioEden is recognized and accepted as the leading specialist in the field. BioEden holds a patent on the process in the U.S. and has more samples under storage (by a significant margin) than any other provider. Accordingly, BioEden has more experience and expertise with which to provide the service of dental stem cell storage.
Furthermore, all samples are stored in duplicate in separate locations for the purpose of creating additional security and safety. A member also knows that they are storing viable stem cells, because all samples are tested prior to cryopreservation to ensure functionality. Therefore, it is known that the material will be useful for therapeutic intervention should it be required in the future.
BioEden also has more pricing plans than any other provider, offering a greater degree of flexibility. This ensures that we can be true to our company mission of helping personalized stem cell therapy become affordable for all.
As noted earlier, we operate in 25 countries. We have laboratories in the US (Texas), Europe (UK), and Asia (Thailand). In addition to these hubs, our primary markets are in Latin American, Europe (where we have announced a significant strategic alliance with the major medical group, Medicover), and Asia (where our service will soon launch in India).
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