How Can Stem Cells Help Emphysema?
What is Emphysema?
Emphysema is a major obstructive lung disease that fits under the umbrella of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It consists of the gradual destruction of air sacs called alveoli in the lungs, making it more difficult to breathe over time. These tiny cluster-like sacs are responsible for bringing oxygen to the bloodstream. As emphysema progresses, the inner walls of the alveoli form holes weakening their structure, and oxygen cannot reach the bloodstream as well. Additionally, emphysema destroys the elasticity of the airways leading to the air sacs. Individuals with emphysema are consistently struggling to breathe and have constant shortness of breath. Stem cell treatments for emphysema are a new option for people suffering from this disease.
Treatments for Emphysema
Unfortunately, there has not been a cure developed for emphysema, but that does not mean that the condition cannot be treated. The first recommendation by many pulmonary physicians is to stop smoking and stay away from smoky locations. Many physicians also recommend a combination of bronchodilators and steroids to help expand airways, thus increasing airflow to and from the lungs and reducing shortness of breath. Emphysema is also treated with a series of pulmonary rehab (aerobic exercise) and nutritional support. For people in the most severe stages of emphysema, supplemental oxygen can also be used occasionally or every day. Sometimes a physician may suggest a lung transplant, but this often has limited availability and challenging requirements for eligibility, not to mention the invasive nature of the procedure. Sadly no treatments readily improve lung function, but rather deter the progression of the disease…until now. A group of visionary physicians have discovered that the use of stem cells can have a positive effect in treating emphysema and other lung diseases.
What are Stem Cells?
Stem cells are the building blocks of all living organisms. They have the ability for self-renewal and replication, and are capable of forming any type of tissue or organ in the body. Adult stem cells from one organ are capable of forming tissue for another organ, which is called plasticity. It has been proven that adult stem cells are capable of being transferred into any organ of the body.
Stem Cell Treatments for Emphysema
In the case of emphysema, autologous stem cells are used, meaning they come from the patient’s body, and can be found in adult venous blood and bone marrow. Stem cells derived from bone marrow or blood have the capacity to form many types of differentiated cells. During the simple procedure, stem cell treatments involve harvesting adult stem cells from bone marrow and blood requiring special laboratory techniques to collect them. After extraction from the patient’s body, they are then processed and isolated. They are then given back to the patient intravenously or through the use of a nebulizer. The treatment is minimally invasive and performed as an outpatient procedure. The procedure should be performed in a clinical setting under the supervision of a professional. It takes specific training to perform stem cell therapy adequately and safely. If you would like to find out more about our available treatment options for emphysema, please contact one of our patient care coordinators today at (800) 729-3065 to schedule a free consultation.