Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Art and Science want your children

If you’ve got a kid waiting to hear the pitter patter of tiny terrifying tooth fairy feet, or your mate has just had his tooth knocked out in the playground, why not get them to donate their tooth to the ‘Palaces’ project. This project will combine their old useless tooth with thousands of other milk teeth from kids across the country to form a gigantic castle of children’s teeth. That’s right – the resulting piece will be a CASTLE OF CHILDREN’S TEETH! The project promises to send a token in return that can be put under a pillow and will let the tooth fairy know that the tooth has been donated to her palace.

The idea behind this art-science collaboration is to raise awareness of different sources of stem cells and ‘inspire the nation with the regenerative potential of adult stem cells’.

Stem cells are capable of growing indefinitely to replace lost or damaged tissue, which gives them the potential to treat illness and injuries including broken bones, heart disease and cancer. It’s well known to scientists but little known to the general public that discarded body parts such as bones from joint replacements, umbilical cords, milk teeth and fat from liposuction are rich sources of stem cells. These stem cells could be used to develop new treatments without the ethical issues associated with using embryonic stem cells.

What’s also brilliant about the project, aside from producing a castle of children’s teeth and informing the public about the reality of stem cell research in the process, is that teeth symbolize transition and new growth. This work therefore also represents the transition and growth of medical research into this arena and symbolises how general knowledge about science can grow to be more accurate and informed through these types of collaborations.

The castle is due to go on display at the Bluecoat in Liverpool in December and at the Science Museum in London in 2012. To find out how your kid's tooth can join in visit the Palaces website.

Fangs for your time.

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