Researchers have learned that stem cells from a wisdom tooth are useful in treating diseases that affect the cornea. University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine scientists succeeded in converting stem cells from the dental pulp of wisdom tooth into cells of eye’s cornea.
The research opens a new direction in developing therapies that treat corneal blindness.
Dr. James Funderburgh, senior investigator for the study, said that millions of people worldwide are affected by corneal blindness, which is generally treated with transplants from donor corneas. He continued to explain that this research shows a lot of promise as patient’s own stem cells is used for treatment. An approach like this would likely reduce the problems associated with donor tissue rejection.
Researchers extracted stem cells of the dental pulp obtained from routine human third molar, or wisdom tooth, and discovered it could be turned into corneal stromal cells called keratocytes. Next, scientists injected keratocytes into the corneas of healthy mice, where they integrated without any signs of rejection.
They also used the cells to develop constructs of corneal stroma akin to natural tissue.
The findings were published in the journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine.