New developments in regenerative medicine are bringing about exciting, novel approaches to create therapies for hard to treat diseases. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a hard to treat disorder that progressively blocks airflow in the lungs making it increasingly difficult for an individual to breathe, and is one of the leading illnesses in the US. Yet, current treatments for COPD can only try to limit the extent of damage to the lungs, and to bring some relief from symptoms.
Novel treatments for COPD are urgently needed, and new applications with the use of adult stem cells may have much benefit. This is because adult stem cells have an ability to differentiate into many different types of cells, such as those required for healthy, functioning lung tissue. Also, adult stem cells can be isolated with ease from an individual’s own fat tissue, and so adult stem cell therapy is not subject to the ethical or religious issues that trouble some other methods.
StemGenex, a US based company, is finding new avenues and methods for using adipose derived adult stem cells to help in diseases with limited treatment options. StemGenex has been working with scientists and physicians over the last 5 years to specifically advance adult stem cell treatment protocols, and the hope is that COPD adult stem cell therapy can help in alleviating COPD symptoms.
Results from researchers working with adult stem cells have shown anti-inflammatory and immune modulatory effects, suggesting possible roles in treating COPD. Interestingly, recent studies in mice indicate the presence of stem cells in the lungs can regenerate damaged lung tissue which occurs through infection. Encouragingly, adult stem cell treatment studies in mice appear to have positive effects across a range of respiratory diseases, which includes COPD.
Taking these research findings into account and building on their own developments, StemGenex is about to submit a plan of using adult stem cell therapy for COPD treatment to an Institutional Review Board for review. This study could scientifically define any potential benefits of such clinical treatments. Rita Alexander, the President of StemGenex, says, “Chuck Liptak, a long-term COPD sufferer, eliminated his requirement for oxygen following a stem cell treatment. It’s imperative that these results be scientifically quantified.”