Stem cells from the dental pulp of wisdom teeth may be capable of doing some unforeseen things. It’s possible that these stem cells could be used to repair corneal scarring due to infection or injury, based on the findings from a research team at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
The information appears in STEM CELLS Translational Medicine. It’s also possible that the cells could become a new source of corneal transplant tissue.
Corneal blindness affects millions of people worldwide. It is usually treated with transplants from corneas.
But the problem is that there are times when there is a shortage of donor corneas. There are also times when there is a rejection of donor tissues, which can result in permanent vision loss. When using the patient’s own cells for treatment, these problems can be avoided.
The stem cells of the dental pulp were taken from the routine human third molar. Extractions that were performed at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Dental Medicine could be turned into corneal stromal cells known as keratocytes, which have the same embryonic origin.
The researchers then injected the engineered keratocytes into the corneas of healthy mice. The keratocytes were integrated without signs of rejection.
This isn’t the first study to show that dental pulp stem cells can be used to make neural, bone or other cells. There’s also the potential for use in regenerative procedures.
The information from this study will eventually be put to the test in animal model.