The official blog of the Lung Institute.
Stem cell therapy for COPD has come a long way. Let’s take a look at how far.
When it comes to the topic of stem cell therapy, there can often be some debate about what it is and how it works. Although we’ve published the findings from our own internal study here, it’s important to understand the science of the field as a whole and what other researchers are saying.
For those with lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema and pulmonary fibrosis (PF), finding effective treatment options remains important to patients and their doctors.
The application of stem cells for the treatment of COPD and other lung diseases has shown substantive progress in the potential to treat symptoms and disease progression. At the Lung Institute, we believe it’s important to know the thoughts of the researchers within the field of stem cell therapy.
With your health in mind, we’re here to explore the question of How Do Researchers Feel About Stem Cell Therapy?
Stem Cell Therapy in Lung Disorders
In the 2013 article titled “Mesenchymal Stem Cell Therapy in Lung Disorders: Pathogenesis of Lung Diseases and Mechanism of Action of Mesenchymal Stem Cell,” the authors, Ajinkya C. Inamdar & Arati A Inamdar, discuss a certain kind of stem cell and how it could be used to treat common lung disorders.
The authors take a deeper look at how mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) could provide a safe way to treat lung diseases, such as acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), COPD and interstitial lung disease.
The authors illustrate the general symptom expression of lung diseases, including inflammation, abnormal immune activity, infection and scarring.
After acknowledging that there currently aren’t effective treatments available for ILD or emphysema, the authors explore the possibility of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) for the treatment of lung disease. MSCs have the potential to calm inflammation and help the immune system function better.
As these stem cells become trapped in the lungs’ pulmonary trap after being introduced intravenously, the authors assert that the form of treatment indicates a “feasible and promising” approach to treating lung disease.
The authors state that the “availability of MSCs from different sources provides a safe, rich and inexpensive source of MSCs for the treatment of lung diseases. Their unique properties in homing, immunomodulation, regeneration and secretion of anti-inflammatory cytokines make them an ideal candidate for the treatment of challenging lung conditions like chronic asthma, ARDS, COPD and ILD.”
Find the full paper here.
Stem Cell Therapy for COPD
COPD is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Approximately, 12 million adults in the US have a COPD diagnosis. However, the National Institutes of Health estimates that another 12 million have the disease and don’t know it.
Currently, most treatment options aim to manage symptoms, but there isn’t a cure for COPD. As the need for better treatments grows, researchers continue to study how stem cell therapy could be the next standard care.
In the 2017 article titled, “Lung Regeneration Therapy for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease,” the authors, Dong Kyu Oh, M.D., You-Sun Kim, Ph.D., and Yeon-Mok Oh, M.D., Ph.D., emphasize the significance of lacking COPD treatment options.
The authors underscore the general seriousness of COPD. They also discuss the current problem in the realm of treatment. In their opinion, there are no definite treatments for COPD.
In the article, they broaden their view of treatment and medication to include the potential of stem cell therapy. The authors reflect on recent advances in stem cell therapy, and its ability to regulate the body’s immune system response. For example, the immune system of people with COPD often produce excessive inflammation, stem cell therapy has the potential to calm inflammation.
The authors conclude that “cell and drug therapies [have] shown promising results” in current studies. The downside is that there are still “numerous obstacles to be overcome” in regards to cell therapy and lung regeneration.
Regardless of the obstacles, the authors state that, “given the achievements to date, the goal of regenerating diseased lungs and curing destructive pulmonary diseases such as COPD seems to be within our grasp.”
Find the full paper here.
The Potential of Lung Stem Cells
In the 2014 article titled “Harnessing the Potential of Lung Stem Cells for Regenerative Medicine,” the authors, Jonathan L. McQualter, Desiree Anthony, Steven Bozinovski, Cecilia M. Prele, Geoffrey J. Laurent, outline the importance of achieving homeostasis or the ability to remain relatively stable.
People with lung disorders often face threats to homeostasis from their disease and from environmental threats, including allergens, pollution, irritants, smoke and viral or bacterial infections. Achieving a balance between the immune system and the natural healing process is often compromised.
However, the authors found that introducing the potential of stem cells and progenitor cells to achieve homeostasis within the lungs, may translate into lung stem cell therapies.
The authors state that, “information arising from seminal clinical observations gives credence to the view that cell-based therapies may be a fruitful therapeutic strategy for lung repair and remodeling after injury. In the past 5 years, we witnessed major advances that increased our current state of knowledge from theoretical discussions to practical considerations.”
Overall, the authors agree more studies are needed. They anticipate that “the few ‘brave’ pilot investigations of the safety of stem cell treatment in chronic lung diseases will excite new fields of research to improve our current understanding of the mechanisms orchestrating lung renewal.”
In fact, they believe these investigations will spark the creation of large multicenter clinical trials, which is what happens in other fields of medicine.
Find the full paper here.
Understanding How Cell Therapy Works
In the 2013 article titled “Stem Cell Therapy in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Seeking Prometheus Effect,” the authors, Argyris Tzouvelekis, Geoff Laurent, Demosthenes Bouros, offer a breakdown of COPD as a disease as well as how it causes symptoms.
In general, the authors lament that the current pharmaceutical agents within the field are “disappointing.” They remark that there is an urgent need for alternative and more effective therapeutic approaches. Because inflammation is the dominant factor in COPD progression and expression, the authors believe that stem cell treatment may prove to be a “fruitful therapeutic application” for patients with COPD. The anti-inflammatory properties of stem cells represent a promising option.
The authors agree that “understanding the molecular mechanisms regulating mobilization and activation of resident progenitor cells is of critical importance to identify novel therapeutic targets.”
In fact, the authors stress the importance of reducing systemic, or whole body, inflammation. In addition, they discuss the need to reprogram developmental pathways, so lung regeneration may be induced.
However, they note that this “may be proven a risky but promising pathway.”
Find the full paper here.
So, What’s Next for Stem Cell Therapy?
The field of stem cell therapy has come a long way in the treatment of COPD. Though there are a few more hills to climb, the consensus has been largely one of promise and positivity.
As the science behind stem cell therapy has continued to advance, so too has a source of hope for millions of people across the country. Although the science isn’t yet perfected, it’s potential and currently exhibited success have paved the way for many to reclaim their time, their quality of life and ultimately their hope in the future.
For more information on stem cell therapy and what it could mean for your life moving forward, contact us today or call us at (800) 729-3065. Our patient coordinators will walk you through our available treatment options and talk through your current health and medical history.
Interested in our article on How Do Researchers Feel about Stem Cell Therapy? A Look at the Field? Share your thoughts and comments below.