The official blog of the Lung Institute.
People living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have a lot to juggle when it comes to managing their COPD symptoms and COPD treatment plan. From multiple visits to doctors to managing a variety of medications, it’s understandable that some may feel frustrated and confused, especially when asking for a doctor’s advice about newer, alternative treatments like COPD stem cell treatment.
Most doctors aren’t going to recommend anything that isn’t considered traditional medicine, especially if the treatment in question is not yet covered by insurance. Generally, doctors practice traditional medicine using statistics to determine the best course of treatment. Despite recent advancements in the field of regenerative medicine, many doctors remain skeptical about it. Here are some basic facts you can share with your doctor about COPD stem cell treatment options.
What are stem cells?
Autologous stem cells are derived from the patient’s body and are sometimes referred to as adult stem cells. Adult stem cells are known as undifferentiated cells, meaning that cells from one part of the body can transform their function to that of other types of tissue. This quality if known as plasticity, and plasticity is the key function of stem cells in regenerative medicine. With the ability to self-renew and replicate, stem cells are the building blocks of life and are essential to every organism.
How do stem cells get to the lungs?
A common question about stem cell treatment for COPD is “how do stem cells get to the lungs?” When a substance, such as medication, blood or stem cells, is introduced to the body through an IV, it is carried in the bloodstream directly to the right side of the heart. Within a heartbeat or two, the heart pushes it directly into the lungs. The circulatory system then distributes the substance throughout the body.
This process is a bit different for stem cells. In studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), researchers found that, while stem cells undergo the same process, they become trapped in the lungs rather than dispersing throughout the body in the bloodstream. Once trapped in what is commonly called the pulmonary trap, the stem cells aggregate in the lungs.
What are the differences between traditional medicine and COPD stem cell treatment?
Traditional COPD treatment options include medications, such as inhalers and corticosteroids, as well as oxygen therapy and pulmonary rehabilitation. Bronchodilators are often prescribed to help open and relax tightened airways while corticosteroids are used to reduce inflammation. At times, antibiotics may be needed to address flare-ups and infections. Oxygen therapy helps people with low blood oxygen levels receive enough oxygen, and pulmonary rehabilitation is a program designed to help people with COPD learn how to function at the highest level possible. While these treatment options help manage COPD symptoms, they do not address the disease at its source.
COPD stem cell treatment works differently, and it can often be added to an existing, more traditional COPD treatment plan. Stem cell treatment for COPD works to promote healing from within the lungs. With the potential to address disease progression and improve lung function, many people turn to stem cell treatment for COPD.
The stem cells are extracted from the patient’s blood or bone marrow. Next, the stem cells are separated in our on-site lab, and then they are returned to the patient intravenously. Once the cells are returned to the patient, they can begin to promote healing.
What are my COPD stem cell treatment options?
The Lung Institute uses autologous stem cells, which are cells derived from the patient’s body. These cells are also known as adult stem cells and can be extracted from blood and bone marrow.
At the Lung Institute, we offer stem cell treatment for many major pulmonary conditions, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, chronic bronchitis, pulmonary fibrosis and interstitial lung disease.
The bone marrow procedure is a two-part procedure, combining both the bone marrow and venous treatments. Bone marrow has both hematopoietic stem cells and mesenchymal stem cells. For people looking for an alternative to the bone marrow procedure, the venous treatment is purely blood-derived and specializes in hematopoietic stem cells. All of the stem cell treatments at the Lung Institute are outpatient and minimally invasive.
Many people report feeling better, breathing easier and living a more active lifestyle after receiving COPD stem cell treatment. We hope this information is helpful for you, and feel free to share it with you doctors. If you or a loved one has COPD, pulmonary fibrosis or another chronic lung disease and would like to learn more about stem cell treatment options, contact us at (800) 729-3065.