Some lung (pulmonary) diseases and conditions can benefit from stem cell therapy. According to the clinical studies through the National Institute of Health, stem cell therapy can help patients with pulmonary disease have improved health and a better quality of life. Adult stem cell therapy for lung disease and pulmonary conditions can help patients who do not respond to usual medication and conservative treatment. Additionally, stem cells can help reduce the patient’s reliance on medications.
WHAT PULMONARY CONDITIONS MAY BENEFIT FROM STEM CELL THERAPY
Pulmonary circulation involves moving blood between the heart and lungs. This is crucial for circulation in the body. Stem cell therapy and regenerative medicine is currently being used to treat:
Congestive heart failure – According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), congestive heart failure is the inability of the heart muscle to pump blood efficiently. This common condition affects around 4 million Americans, with 400,000 new cases being diagnosed each year. It is the leading cause of death among women and men in the U.S.
Asthma – Characterized by symptoms of wheezing, tightness, and shortness of breath, asthma affects around 300 million people worldwide, and causes around 200,000 deaths each year.
Post myocardial infarction (MI) – An MI is a heart attack, which is sudden loss of heart function. The American Heart Association reports more than 400,000 cardiac arrests each year in the U.S. After an MI, the goal of stem cell therapy is to heal the damaged heart muscle through administration of stem cells.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – This condition makes it hard to breath. Both chronic bronchitis and emphysema are types of COPD, and studies involving stem cells show that the therapy can improve lung elasticity and reduce damage to lung tissue.
THE STEM CELL THERAPY PROCEDURE
Stem cells are derived from adipose (fat) tissue. In comparison to other forms of stem cells, such as those derived from bone marrow, adipose derived stem cells are greater in number which is important for patient success rates.
The Cell Surgical Network procedure for harvesting adipose derived stem cells is IRB approved and yields 10 million to 40 million stem cells. After cells are removed they can be cryopreserved in dedicated stem cell banks and expanded to hundreds of millions autologous cells. When the cells are required for therapy, they are shipped back to the physician in an IRB-approved manner, with quality assurances at every step of the process.
The harvesting procedure involves liposuction. After obtaining the stem cells, they are deployed to the patient intravenously (IV) or through a nebulizer (inhaled) treatment. When you discuss the procedure with the doctor, he or she will go over the risks and benefits. If you decide on having stem cell therapy for lung disease or other problems, you must sign a consent form. You will be scheduled for the retrieval or harvest procedure and the administration on the same day.
After local anesthetic infiltration using gentle suction, fat cells and tissue are removed. The fat solution is then processed. When the stem cells are deployed directly into your vein, they will reach the lung tissue via the body’s normal circulation process. With the nebulization, the stem cells are inhaled right into the lungs via the respiratory tract.
In an Australian clinical study at the Mater Medical Research Institute, researchers assessed the efficacy and safety of stem cell therapy in 8 patients with lung disease. The study involved use of adipose-derived stem cells, which were deployed to the patients. Within two hours from fat harvesting, the stem cells were administered via endobronchial autologous infusion (placement into the lung tubes or bronchi). At the follow-up evaluation appointment, researchers found they improved forced volume capacity and increased respiratory ability, improving overall lung health.
In a Chinese study published in Current Stem Cell Research & Therapy, adipose derived stem cells were investigated for their use as a clinical therapy for allergic rhinitis and asthma, caused by the Th2-driven immune response. Adipose derived stem cells were shown to inhibit Th2-dependent airway allergic reactions.
In a study involving chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients who had dramatic alterations in lung architecture associated with alveolar epithelial cell apoptosis, exaggerated inflammatory process, extracellular matrix destruction, and endothelial dysfunction, researchers evaluated the use of stem cell therapy. The patients all had protease and anti-protease imbalance, which caused significant inflammatory spillover into the body’s systemic circulation. The researchers found that the procedure worked, but more studies were needed to assess efficacy related to biomarkers.