Nishida et al showed that tissue-engineered cell sheets from autologous oral mucosal epithelium may serve as effective substitutes for allografts of Limbal tissue in the reconstruction of the corneal and Limbal surfaces. In their study four patients were treated with autologous mucosal epithelium whose corneal transparency was restored and postoperative visual acuity improved remarkably, with no serious complications. First, in vivo oral mucosal epithelium expresses keratin 3, which is also expressed by the corneal epithelium but not by the epidermis. Second, the Excision of a small piece of oral mucosal tissue from the patient is relatively easy, resulting in wound healing within several days without incident or scarring. Third, the transparent carrier free sheets of tissue-engineered epithelial cells fabricated from oral mucosal epithelial cells were similar to the transparency of corneal epithelial-cell sheets originating from Limbal Stem Cells. Autologous oral mucosal epitheliums are effective for reconstructing the ocular surface and restoring vision in patients with bilateral total stem cell deficiencies.

With this background NCRM is working on buccal mucosal epithelial cell transplantation for patients with bilateral total stem cell deficiencies .