Thursday, October 22, 2015

Using Teeth to Repair Eyes

Use your teeth to repair a scratched cornea?  It's possible, according to a new procedure that actually uses wisdom teeth to create corneal stem cells.

Photo from en.wikipedia.org
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have successfully taken stem cells from the dental pulp of wisdom teeth and turned them into cornea cells. Scientists hope that this technique can soon be used to repair corneal scarring due to infection or injury, and may lead to a new source of corneal transplant tissue made from the patient's own cells.

Corneal blindness affects millions of people worldwide, and is usually treated by transplanting donated corneas.  However, shortages of donor tissue and problems with tissue rejection make alternative sources of corneal tissue extremely exciting.

In the Pittsburgh research, scientists obtained ordinary human wisdom tooth dental pulp and engineered the pulp stem cells into corneal stromal cells called "keratocytes."  The team then injected the keratocytes into the corneas of healthy mice, where they integrated without any signs of rejection.

The next stage of the study will determine whether this technique actually works to correct corneal scarring in animals.  This is yet another groundbreaking development involving amazing teeth.

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