The official blog of the Lung Institute.
Closing the Healthcare Gap with Stem Cells
Every April, health enthusiasts around the world speak up about the importance of vaccines and preventive care during World Immunization Week. Currently dominating the preventive care dialogue: flu shots.
In 1938, the first flu vaccination was created in hopes of protecting United States soldiers during World War II against the flu. Despite the creation of a working vaccine, many individuals did not have access to the medication. It wasn’t until 1976, and the outbreak of swine flu, that the federal government supported the vaccination of the entire US population. Thanks to President Ford, the gap in access to the flu vaccination shrank.
This year, the World Immunization Week theme surrounds the idea of closing the gap. In developed countries like the US, access has to do with availability and the chance to improve your health by taking your healthcare into your own hands. This especially applies to elective treatments.
Many people have concerns about the flu vaccine; some state it causes headaches and flu-like symptoms, so they elect to not receive a flu shot. However, statistics strongly support the flu vaccination over trying to tough it out, especially for the elderly. The CDC estimates that, in people over 50, there is a 77 percent reduction in hospitalization for flu symptoms when vaccinated.
Why not give yourself the best possible chance to be healthy? The benefits of the flu shot are highly compelling for those suffering from a lung disease like COPD. The coughing, shortness of breath and fatigue that come along with the flu are everyday symptoms for those with lung disease, and the possibility of contracting the flu can turn these already harsh symptoms into something fatal. As a result, most sufferers choose to get an annual flu shot, but for many, that is not enough.
If a shot can vaccinate you from the flu, what can be done about lung disease? New options are emerging, and some have discovered adult stem cells as the answer. Just like the flu vaccine, stem cell therapy offers the possibility of improving lives through effective management and treatment of debilitating conditions. Adult, autologous stem cells have been researched and used in various treatments since the first bone marrow transplant in 1968. These cells act as our body’s system to promote healing; they are natural healers.
A US-based clinic, the Lung Institute, has developed a treatment that harnesses the healing power of stem cells to help sufferers of chronic lung diseases breathe easier. Their website states that the medical team extracts the stem cells from the patient’s own body, isolates them and then reintroduces them to the lungs intravenously and with a nebulizer. This speeds up the natural healing process by directing the stem cells—and their healing properties—toward the diseased area, resulting in healthier tissue growing in place of damaged lung tissue. Although this doesn’t cure the disease, over 700 Lung Institute patients speak to the benefits of the treatment.
Access to suitable healthcare is finally within reach. With preventive care taking a front row seat in the global healthcare dialogue, sufferers of lung disease no longer have to wait for technology to catch up to their condition. When the medical field banded together to tackle the flu virus, they were able to develop a vaccine. With current medical advancements, the question of whether this can be done for lung disease is forthcoming, and it seems that stem cells may play a key role.