Can Stem Cells Help Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD)?
What is ILD?
Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD) is an umbrella term identifying a family of roughly 100 types of pulmonary disorders that alter the absorption of oxygen in the lungs. All of these disorders 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 ILD, the interstitium becomes progressively scarred. This scarring is characteristic of the whole group of disorders encompassed by ILD. The scar tissue prevents the ability for oxygen to readily pass into the bloodstream from the lungs. Previously the effects of ILD were completely irreversible; now stem cell treatments for ILD are offering a practical option for people suffering from this disease.
Treatments for ILD
Sadly, ILD is incurable, but that does not mean that it is untreatable. In fact, there are many possible treatments for ILD. As an incurable disease, the treatments are not meant to make the disorder disappear, but rather treatments can be used to better quality of life, to treat symptoms or to delay the progression of the disease. At first, many physicians offer a combination of medicines to suppress the immune system, but these have not proved successful. In order to help patients struggling to breathe, supplemental oxygen can help manage shortness of breath and make life more comfortable. Occasionally, pulmonary rehabilitation and nutritional counseling are offered as a means of strengthening endurance. In severe cases, physicians may recommend a lung transplant, but this often has limited availability and extensive requirements for procedure eligibility. Now, a new treatment is available as a result of the hard work of an innovative group of doctors dedicated to improving the lives of patients with ILD.
What are Stem Cells?
Stem cells are the building blocks of every single living organism. 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 able to form tissue for another organ, which is called plasticity. It has been found that adult stem cells are capable of being transferred into any one single organ of the body.
Stem Cell Treatment for ILD
In the case of ILD, autologous stem cells are used; this means the cells come from the patient’s own body. These stem cells can be found in blood (venous). Stem cells derived from bone marrow or blood have the capacity to form many types of differentiated cells. During the procedure, stem cell treatments involve isolating adult stem cells from bone marrow, which require special laboratory techniques to collect. After being extracted from the patient’s body, the cells are isolated. At this point, they are given back to the patient intravenously or through the use of a nebulizer. The treatment is 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 treatments for ILD and other lung diseases, please contact one of our patient care coordinators today at (800) 729-3065 to schedule a free consultation.