Researchers grow lung tissue from stem cells news
04 December 2013

A major challenge for medical science may soon become passť thanks to stem cells. Lung transplants are plagued by high rejection rates but with stem cells it may soon become possible to grow a new lung.

In a first development of its kind, scientists have succeeded in transforming human stem cells into functional lung and airway cells.

The advance, reported by Columbia University Medical Centre (CUMC) researchers, could potentially find application in modelling lung disease, screening drugs, studying human lung development, and, ultimately, generating lung tissue for transplantation.

"Researchers have had relative success in turning human stem cells into heart cells, pancreatic beta cells, intestinal cells, liver cells and nerve cells, raising all sorts of possibilities for regenerative medicine. Now, we are finally able to make lung and airway cells. This is important because lung transplants have a particularly poor prognosis.

"Although any clinical application is still many years away, we can begin thinking about making autologous lung transplants - that is, transplants that use a patient's own skin cells to generate functional lung tissue," said study leader Hans-Willem Snoeck, professor of medicine at CUMC.

Now, we are finally able to make lung and airway cells. This is important because lung transplants have a particularly poor prognosis. Although any clinical application is still many years away, we can begin thinking about making autologous lung transplants-that is, transplants that use a patient's own skin cells to generate functional lung tissue."

The research builds on the discovery by Dr Snoeck in 2011 that a set of chemical factors that could turn human embryonic stem (ES) cells or human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells into anterior foregut endoderm-precursors of lung and airway cells.

The findings may have implication in the study of a number of conditions of the lungs, including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), in which type 2 alveolar epithelial cells are thought to play a central role.

The study has been published in the journal Nature Biotechnology.





 search domain-b
  go
 
Researchers grow lung tissue from stem cells