From stem cells, different specialized types of cells can be produced.
A groundbreaking approach using engineered stem cells could offer a new treatment pathway for chronic lung diseases, including pulmonary fibrosis. Scientists have successfully used specialized lung stem cells to regenerate healthy airway tissues in mouse models, marking a significant step towards potential human applications.
HCN Medical Memo
This research marks a significant advancement in the quest for effective treatments for chronic lung diseases like pulmonary fibrosis. The use of engineered stem cells, particularly iPSCs, not only promises a more personalized treatment but also eliminates the need for immunosuppressant drugs, which often come with their own set of complications. This could revolutionize the way we approach not just pulmonary fibrosis but a range of lung diseases, offering a more sustainable and effective treatment pathway.
- Researchers from the Center for Regenerative Medicine (CReM), a collaboration between Boston University and Boston Medical Center, have been developing this stem cell-based approach for two decades.
- Two proof-of-concept studies published in Cell Stem Cell detail how scientists engineered lung stem cells and used them to repopulate lungs with healthy cells in mouse models.
- The engineered stem cells demonstrated lifelong engraftment, continuously renewing themselves and giving rise to functional airway epithelium cells.
- Martin Ma, a doctoral student at Boston University, stated that this work could pave the way for new therapeutic approaches using induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) for patient-specific treatment.
- Darrell Kotton, MD, emphasized that the cells were able to self-renew and maintain a functional airway epithelium.
“Because the cells engrafted as basal cells, the normal stem cell of the airways, they were able to self-renew or make copies of themselves by dividing and also giving rise to other cell types that together make a functional airway epithelium.”
– Darrell Kotton, MD, Professor at Boston University, CReM’s Director, and the study’s corresponding author
- iPSCs offer an easier route for obtaining specialized stem cells, as they can be reprogrammed from blood or skin samples.
- This approach could bypass the need for immunosuppressant treatment in transplants, especially in genetic conditions where a patient’s own stem cells could be engineered to correct the genetic defect.
- The road to clinical development for nongenetic diseases like pulmonary fibrosis remains long and will require further research.
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