Jackson Laboratory scientists have identified the adult lung stem cells p63+/Krt5+ as the specific cell line that specializes in lung regeneration. In an animal model, professors Frank McKeon, Ph.D. and Wa Xian, Ph.D. observed as the p63+/Krt5+, which typically mature into the lungs’ alveoli, responded to lung damage caused by the H1N1 influenza virus by migrating to the sites of inflammation and restoring the lost tissue.
A recent study presented at the European Respiratory Society’s International Congress has developed a possible treatment for Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) by using Mesenchymal Stem Cells [MSC] to reduce inflammation in the lungs. In an animal model, stem cells released proteins that stimulate macrophages (a type of white blood cell) to suppress the excessive immune response that can severely damage a patient’s lungs.
Researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch have successfully grown human lungs in vitro [in a lab] by utilizing stem cells. The team of scientists, led by Dr. Michael Riddle, used a donated lung to engineer a scaffold outlining the lung’s architecture. Then, they seeded the scaffold with stem cells from the donor’s complementary lung to create a complete, functional, and healthy lung.
Researchers at the Samsung Medical Center and Biomedical Research Institute in Seoul, South Korea, have succeeded in treating and preventing Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia [BPD], a chronic lung disease affecting preterm infants. In a Phase 1 clinical trial, the research team was successful in transplanting mesenchymal stem cells to repair damage and underdevelopment within the infant’s lungs.
Scientists at Academia Sinica in Taiwan have used fluorescent nanodiamonds to track a single stem cell implanted into the lungs of mice. The tracking capability gives researchers insight into site specific interactions of stem cells and their surrounding environment.
Nearly half a million babies in the U.S. are born premature every year (that's roughly 1 in every 8 children). Many of them require medical assistance during the first weeks of life, especially due to their under-developed lungs. Babies that are born premature are often put on breathing machines as their lungs finish maturing, but there can be negative side effects of these measures: many children (as many as 10,000) develop a condition called bronchopulmonary dysplasia, or BPD.
But research headed by Bernard Thébaud, a neonatologist and senior scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and CHEO Research Institute, demonstrates that mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can help repair damaged lungs in animal studies involving newborn rats, which have lungs that are roughly similar to a human fetus at 24 weeks of development.