Scientists have taken a key step toward the development of what could be a breakthrough treatment for corneal blindness, a condition that affects millions of people around the world.
The scientists showed that stem cells obtained from the dental pulp of extracted teeth can be turned into the specialized cells that keep corneas healthy and free of blinding scars caused by illness or injury–and that these cells could safely be injected into the corneas of mice.
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.
The paper was published online Feb. 23, 2015 in the journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine.