Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) encompasses entities historically known as chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Chronic bronchitis is one of the possible clinical manifestations of COPD and has long periods of cough with sputum in its definition. Emphysema (widening of air spaces due to the destruction of lung tissue) is one of the structural changes in the lung that may be present in COPD.
The main symptoms of COPD are shortness of breath, usually persistent and worsening with physical effort; and chronic cough, with or without sputum. The main test needed to diagnose COPD is the pulmonary function test (spirometry, or “murmur test”).
The treatments against Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease simply reduce symptoms but do not stop the underlying disease. In fact, at present, the only effective treatment is a lung transplant, which carries a high risk of mortality and involves the long-term use of immunosuppressive drugs.
For this reason, scientists have studied the possibility of using regenerative medicine, also known as stem cell therapy, to treat Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, as they are capable of proliferating and repairing lesions. Some types of stem cells have anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrosis properties that make them particularly attractive for potential treatments in diseases of this type.
What Are Stem Cells And How Are They Important in Regenerative Medicine For Treatment of COPD?
Stem cells have the ability to reproduce themselves, multiplying into new cells that give rise to all the organs and tissues in the body. They can also alter or renew their functions, so they are used by medicine to repair anomalies in the body caused by diseases or natural factors.
To better understand the concept, it is necessary to take into account that the human body is composed of a trillion cells and some of them have specific functions. An example are neurons, cells of the nervous system, which have a different performance from the cells that make up the muscles. We say that these cells with specific functions are differentiated cells.
However, there are so-called stem cells that do not yet have a defined specification in the body and can transform into other types of cells. This potential has been used in regenerative medicine, to create different types of treatments.
Mesenchymal Stem Cells have the potential to repair and regenerate damaged tissues and can be sourced from adipose (fat) tissue, bone marrow aspirate, or donated umbilical cord tissue. Research has brought about promising findings that could help the development of stem cell-based therapies for lung diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
This post was written by Becky Palmer, a medical professional at Stemedix Inc. At Stemedix we provide access to Regenerative Medicine. Regenerative medicine has the natural potential to help improve symptoms sometimes lost from the progression of many conditions.