Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been found to aid in the treatment of autoimmune-related lung fibrosis. Interstitial pneumonia is the inflammation of alveoli, and affects patients with pulmonary fibrosis and other connective tissue diseases. Increased fibrosis is due to an overactive immune response--mainly cytotoxic T cells. Past therapies have tried to suppress all immune cells to lower pro-fibrotic molecules. Mesenchymal stem cells are able to selectively change the composition of T cells from cytotoxic to regulatory. Bone marrow derived stem cells interfered with overactive autoimmune processes, and promoted the repair of alveoli tissue.
Scientists at the University of Cambridge and University of Manchester are using stem cells to create study environments that closely resemble human tissue which they call “mini lungs.” These lungs are not designed to be transplanted, but offer a valuable biological use in evaluating new treatments and therapies.