Louis A. Cona M.D.
A brief definition of COPD and how stem cells may be able to combat lung-related inflammation.
COPD is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that affects over 600 million people worldwide. The most common conditions contributing to COPD include emphysema and chronic bronchitis brought on by tobacco use or inhalation of irritants or particulate matter. In both cases, the airways become blocked due to structural damage to the lungs or inflammation of the bronchial tubes. As of today, there has been no proven cure for COPD; however modern advances in stem cell therapies have yielded promising results.
Stem cells have the unique ability to change into any type of cell in the body, called differentiation. They can be administered intravenously and find damaged tissues around organs. When used in regards to COPD patients, stem cells can repair damaged lung tissue to combat emphysema and have natural anti-inflammatory properties which can clear airways for those with chronic bronchitis. While this treatment is still in the early stages of development, studies have already been completed to quantify the effects of stem cell therapy. According to a report done by the Lung Institute called Autologous Stem Cell Therapy and its Effects on COPD, over 82% of patients that attempted stem cell treatment had noticeable improvements in their quality of life after their therapies. Many of these patients reported increased lung capacity and the ability to walk following treatment. This positioned stem cells as one of the best viable options for current patients with COPD.
While stem cell treatment has not shown the ability to cure COPD, its ability to repair damaged tissue and relatively invasive nature makes it an attractive alternative to patients. This path becomes even more desirable when considering the current treatment protocols requiring the use of ventilators or even total lung transplants, which are rare and extremely expensive.
There is still a large amount of unknown information regarding the functionality of cells and tissue within the lungs by doctors today. This has created barriers in producing viable treatments to repair lung damage, instead focusing on treating COPD symptoms and improving quality of life. Stem cells provide a new method for treatment that is proving to be highly effective in treating actual tissue damage. As of today, treatment with stem cells is still experimental and has not become standard practice in medicine.
You also might be interested in
A brief description of MS and how mesenchymal stem cells may be able to aid in the management of MS symptoms and possibly even halt the progression of the disease.
Read more ￫
An in-depth description of mesenchymal stem cells and what makes them so valuable.
Read more ￫