Can Stem Cells Help Interstitial Lung Disease?
Interstitial Lung Disease is an umbrella term identifying a group of roughly 100 diverse types of pulmonary diseases that prevent the normal absorption of oxygen in the lungs. All of these diseases affect the interstitium, which is the tissue and space surrounding the alveoli—the cluster-like air sacs—of the lungs. Typically the interstitium is relatively invisible, but when an individual has interstitial lung disease, the interstitium is progressively scarred. This scarring is characteristic of the family of diseases encompassed by interstitial lung disease. The scar tissue impedes the ability for oxygen to readily pass from the lungs into the bloodstream. Before today, the effects of interstitial lung disease were completely irreversible; now stem cell therapies for interstitial lung disease are offering a potential option for people affected by the disease.
Therapies for Interstitial Lung Disease
Sadly, interstitial lung disease is incurable, but that does not mean that it is cannot be treated. In fact, there are many therapies for interstitial lung disease. As an incurable disorder, the therapies are not meant to make the disease disappear completely, but rather therapies can be used to strengthen a patient’s quality of life, to treat symptoms or to prevent the progression of the disease. Upon diagnosis, many physicians prescribe a combination of medications to suppress the immune system, but these have not proven successful. In order to help patients struggling to breathe, compressed oxygen can help manage shortness of breath and make life more comfortable. Sometimes, pulmonary rehabilitation and nutritional counseling are recommended as a method of improving endurance. In severe cases, pulmonologists may recommend a lung transplant, but this invasive procedure often has limited availability and extensive requirements for eligibility. Today, a new treatment is available as a result of the hard work of a visionary group of doctors dedicated to improving the lives of patients with interstitial lung disease.
What are Stem Cells?
Stem cells are the building blocks of every single living organism on the planet. They have the ability for self-renewal and replication, and are capable of forming any type of tissue or organ in the body. Uniquely, adult stem cells from one organ are able to create tissue for another organ; this is called plasticity. It has been discovered that adult stem cells are able to be transferred into any single organ in the body.
Stem Cell Therapies for Interstitial Lung Disease
In the case of interstitial lung disease, autologous stem cells are used; this means the cells come from the patient’s body. These stem cells are found in blood (venous). Bone marrow or venous stem cells have the capacity to form many types of differentiated cells. During the procedure, stem cell therapies involve isolating adult stem cells from bone marrow, which require special laboratory techniques to collect. After extraction, the cells are isolated. At this point, they are returned to the patient intravenously or through the use of a nebulizer. The therapies are minimally invasive and performed as an outpatient procedure. It should be performed in a clinical setting under the supervision of a professional. It takes a physician that has sought specific training to perform stem cell therapy adequately, safely and successfully. If you would like to find out more about our available stem cell therapies for interstitial lung disease, please contact one of our patient care coordinators today at (800) 729-3065 to schedule a free consultation.