Stem cells from wisdom teeth could help repair corneas

Wisdom Teeth

Stem cells from the pulp of extracted wisdom teeth, like those above, could provide a viable therapy for corneal blindness, researchers posit.

Maximilian Schönherr/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0)

Stem cells inside your teeth could one day help repair eye scratches that cause blindness, scientists report February 23 in Stem Cells Translational Medicine.  

The cornea is a thin outer layer of tissue that protects human eyes and helps focus light on the retina. Deep scratches can scar the cornea, sometimes resulting in blindness. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh propose using dental pulp stem cells as an alternative to hit-or-miss corneal transplants. The researchers engineered dental stem cells from extracted wisdom teeth to grow into a complex cornea-like structure. And mice injected with engineered dental pulp cells didn’t reject the tissue, a common problem with transplants.

Helen Thompson is the multimedia editor. She has undergraduate degrees in biology and English from Trinity University and a master’s degree in science writing from Johns Hopkins University.

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