Corneal blindness affects millions of people worldwide, but scientists at the University of Pittsburgh may be nearing a breakthrough stem cell treatment, the Huffington Post reports
The new method would involve obtaining stem cells from the dental pulp of extracted wisdom teeth, which can then be specialized and injected into the cornea. Scientists have already successfully demonstrated the concept in an experiment on healthy mice, whose corneas integrated the new tissue without rejection.
The approach anticipates a treatment with clear advantages over the usual method of treating corneal blindness, in which a patient's scarred corneas are replaced with healthy tissue from donor corneas. In some cases, the patient's body rejects the transplanted tissue, and donor corneas are in short supply in certain parts of the world, including Africa and Asia.
For human patients, the leader of the study suggested, we might begin to bank our wisdom teeth and cells upon their extraction.
Last year, 70,000 corneal transplants were performed in the United States, making research into new forms of treatment a welcome mission. Human testing for the current finding could still be a few years away, but the next step will be to conduct similar experiments in rabbits.
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