A scarred or scratched cornea is a condition that necessitates immediate treatment, and it could potentially lead to permanent vision loss. As of now, the options to treat this scarring include donor corneas replacing the damaged one, or donor tissues to try and regenerate the impaired tissue. However, teeth may provide another option! Recent findings at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, indicate that the “stem cells from the dental pulp of wisdom teeth can be coaxed” to become cornea cells and thus repair scarring.
Becoming blind from cornea damage is said to affect millions of people around the world—if the wisdom teeth pulp option helps to heal this, it could be a major advancement in treatment. The biggest issue with current treatment options is the lack of donor corneas; when donor tissue can be implanted, there is also the risk of the tissue being rejected by the recipient’s body. So how do wisdom teeth stem cells avoid these risks? According to the Pittsburg School of Dental Medicine, wisdom teeth pulp could be turned into “keratocytes, which have the same embryonic origin,” making the cells a better fit to repair the cornea.
As of now, the research has been tested on laboratory mice to see the effects firsthand. The results of injecting keratocytes into mice corneas showed perfect integration with no signs of rejection. Because this was only the first test, researchers will continue to test on other animal models better judge the pulp’s effectiveness. Also, according to Dr. Syed-Picard of Pittsburgh’s Department of Ophthalmology, there is proven research showing dental pulp has serious potential for use in “regenerative purposes and making neural, bone, and other cells.” If these theories of dental pulp are proven 100% right, then the future of corneal scarring could be changed for the good, helping millions worldwide avoid the damages. Who would have thought teeth would be an answer to vision loss?