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Stem Cell Therapy : Potential Treatment for Lung Damage

Stem Cell Therapy : Potential Treatment for Lung Damage

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  • Chronic conditions like cystic fibrosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder result in lung inflammation, reduced lung function and respiratory failure.
  • Mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) therapy has demonstrated the ability to counteract inflammation in the lungs, in animal models with chronic lung diseases.
  • MSC therapy utilizes the combined anti-inflammatory and reparative properties that helps to reduce the inflammatory response while simultaneously restoring lung function.

Stem cell therapy helps to reduce lung inflammation in an animal model of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cystic fibrosis.

Conditions like COPD and cystic fibrosis lead to chronic lung inflammation, reduced lung function and eventually result in respiratory failure.


Mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) therapy is currently being investigated as a promising therapeutic approach for a number of incurable, degenerative lung diseases.

The short and long-term effects of administering stem cell therapy in chronic respiratory disease is yet to be investigated.

Effects of MSC Therapy in Mice

For their new study, the research team investigated the effectiveness of MSC therapy in a mouse model of chronic inflammatory lung disease. They had some essential features of diseases such as COPD and cystic fibrosis.

One set of mice were given stem cells while another set were used as controls, and did not receive the MSC therapy.

Stem cells were delivered intravenously at 4 and 6 weeks of age to mice that over expressed ENaC; the tissue and cell samples were collected from the lungs at 8 weeks.


The findings were compared to the control group. Following are the changes that were noticed in the MSC treated group.
  • Inflammation was significantly reduced.
  • Biomarkers of inflammation such as cell counts for both monocytic cells and neutrophils were significantly reduced.
  • Lung tissue analysis also revealed a reduction in the mean linear intercept and other measures of lung destruction.
  • Apart from reducing inflammation in the lung, MSC therapy also resulted in significant improvements in lung structure.
This suggests that stem cell therapy has the potential to repair the damaged lung.

According to Dr Declan Doherty, from Queens University Belfast, UK, "These preliminary findings demonstrate the potential effectiveness of MSC treatment as a means of repairing the damage caused by chronic lung diseases such as COPD. The ability to counteract inflammation in the lungs by utilizing the combined anti-inflammatory and reparative properties of MSCs could potentially reduce the inflammatory response in individuals with chronic lung disease whilst also restoring lung function in these patients."

He also stressed that further research has to be done to understand the mechanism by which MSCs repair this damage. At present, though, this finding is very promising as a therapy to treat chronic lung disease.

According to Professor Rachel Chambers, ERS Conferences and Research Seminars Director, "This paper offers novel results in a pre-clinical model which demonstrates the potential of MSC therapy for the treatment of long-term lung conditions with exciting potential implications for the future treatment of patients with COPD and cystic fibrosis."

Professor Rachel regards the finding "as a cutting-edge abstract that can help develop novel therapeutic approaches for the millions of patients suffering from devastating and often fatal respiratory conditions."

These findings have important potential implications for the future treatment of patients.

The findings were presented in Estoril, Portugal at the European Respiratory Society's Lung Science Conference.


Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD, refers to a group of diseases including chronic bronchitis and asthma that obstructs the airflow and causes breathing-related problems.

Tobacco smoke is a key factor in the development and progression of COPD in the United States. Other factors include exposure to air pollutants, occupational pollutants, genetic factors, and respiratory infections.

In 2014, in the U.S, COPD was the third leading cause of death. Around 15.7 million Americans (6.4%) had been diagnosed with COPD.

Cystic Fibrosis (CF)

Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disorder caused by the mutation of the CFTR gene that affects the lungs.

People with the disease inherit mutant CFTR genes from parents, who may not have the disease themselves.

It is characterized by the accumulation of sticky mucus in the lungs and excessively salty sweat. The thickened mucus clogs the lungs and creates a convenient environment for microorganisms to thrive and cause infections. The recurrent infections affects the lung functions and ultimately leads to respiratory failure.

The World Health Organization statistics show that 1 in 2000-3000 newborns in the European Union are found to be affected by CF. In the United States, 1 in 3,500 children are born with CF.

In contrast, prevalence is lesser in non-Western communities. Only 1 in 15,000 African American children and 1 in 32,000 Asian Americans children suffered from cystic fibrosis in 1997.

The prevalence of CF in the Indian subcontinent is not clearly known but may vary from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 40,000.

References :
  1. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) - (https://www.cdc.gov/copd/index.html)
  2. Cystic Fibrosis - (//www.medindia.net/patients/patientinfo/cystic-fibrosis.htm)

Source: Medindia

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