Wisdom teeth may be used to help repair corneal damage

By - Bad Breath Expert

SUMMARY:  Scientists have discovered a possible way to use wisdom tooth pulp to help treat blinding illnesses.

Posted: February 26, 2015

Research€‹ conducted by scientists at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine suggests that the pulp of wisdom teeth could be used to repair corneal scarring. In a paper published in STEM CELLS Translational Medicine, researchers found that stem cells extracted from wisdom teeth could be altered into keratocytes, which are corneal stromal cells that might reverse scarring caused by infections or injuries. The team successfully injected these cells into the corneas of healthy mice, but further animal testing is required before these procedures can be tested on humans.

The research team noted that corneal blindness affects millions of people worldwide. Corneal damage is usually treated with a transplant, however, scientists convey that this procedure isn't always an option.

In a University of Pittsburgh news release, senior investigator Dr. James Funderburgh stated, "Shortages of donor corneas and rejection of donor tissue do occur, which can result in permanent vision loss. Our work is promising because using the patient's own cells for treatment could help us avoid these problems."

The scientists plan on testing the method in another animal model in the near future. If successful, the implications of such research could affect a wide range of people. While stem cells found in dental pulp may someday restore vision, other studies have suggested it can be used for a number of other regenerative purposes.

Lead author Dr. Fatima Syed-Picard explained in a statement, "Other research has shown that dental pulp stem cells can be used to make neural, bone and other cells. They have great potential for use in regenerative therapies."

According to the Huffington Post, donor corneas are not widely available in certain parts of the world, such as Africa and Asia. A procedure such as this could prove to reduce the demand for transplants in such locations. Of course, since the cells have to be extracted from the wisdom teeth of the person receiving the procedure, these extraneous molars would have to be saved. Funderburgh told the Huffington Post that people would have to "bank" their wisdom teeth after extraction.

In an email to HuffPo€‹st€‹, Funderburgh went on to explain that if a person doesn't hold onto their wisdom teeth, the process gets a bit more complicated:

"For someone who did not do that it is possible to extract dental pulp with a root canal procedure, but this is still hypothetical. In the worst-case scenario, someone might consider having a tooth extracted to provide cells for this procedure."

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