The official blog of the Lung Institute.
In the year 2000, the United States government announced that the measles disease had been eradicated. That may be surprising news to anyone that has been following the recent measles outbreak of approximately 170 cases that began at Disneyland California. To the credit of the federal government, there was no longer a year round presence of measles in the United States, so the continual contraction of the disease was eliminated. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) attributes the recent outbreak to two factors: initial exposure resulting from international travel and the modern-day movement of parents choosing not to vaccinate their children for religious, philosophical or health concerns. The current estimation is that about 8 percent of all children in the United States are not vaccinated against the measles. Of all the unvaccinated children, 20 percent of them don’t have access to adequate healthcare. The reality that every child doesn’t have the capability to receive a vaccination that has been in use for decades speaks to growing concerns about healthcare access in this country.
Access doesn’t simply mean the ability to pay for medical treatments. In many cases, access has more to do with availability. This can occur when there is a lag in the time between research and treatment protocols being developed. This is exactly the case for stem cell therapy in the United States.
Stem cells have become a buzzword in the news over the past few years. However, much of the talk is about fetal stem cells or stem cell manipulation; very few are talking about adult stem cells that are present in all of our bodies. Adult, or autologous, stem cells have been researched and used in various treatments since the first bone marrow transplant in 1968. These cells live in our blood, bone marrow and fat tissue and act as our body’s system to promote healing. The down side to stem cells is that they don’t typically move quickly, hence why our body doesn’t instantly heal when we get sick.
There is a clinic in the United States known as the Lung Institute that is working to change this. The company treats lung diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and interstitial lung disease (ILD) with stem cells from the patient’s own body. In essence, they extract the cells through a minimally invasive procedure, clean them and then reintroduce them to the lungs intravenously and through a nebulizer. According to the clinic, this speeds up the natural process of healing by directing the stem cells—and their healing properties—toward the area of the disease. The result is healthier tissue growing in place of damaged lung tissue, and although this doesn’t cure the disease, over 600 patients that the Lung Institute has treated speak to the benefit of the treatment.
Although the measles is a devastating disease that can wreak havoc on your body, lung disease is the third leading cause of death in the United States. When the fight to eradicate measles was in full swing, the medical field was able to develop a vaccine. With the advancements in medical research, the question of whether this can be done for lung disease is forthcoming, and stem cells may play a starring role.
If you or a loved one is interested in learning more about how stem cells can help treat lung disease, the Lung Institute can help. Contact a patient coordinator at (800) 729-3065 to find out if this treatment could help you breathe easier.