COPD and Stem Cell Treatment

25 November 2019 Written by
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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or simply COPD and stem cell treatment are two worlds that are beginning to meet more and more. COPD is a progressive lung disease that makes it difficult to breathe and has a major impact worldwide.

According to the American Lung Association, approximately 11 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with COPD.

COPD and stem cell treatment that can prevent more damage and improve the patient’s quality of life are being researched. There’s promising research that suggests stem cells may help treat people with this type of lung disease. There are two main types of COPD which are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Many people with COPD have a combination of both. COPD causes one or more the following changes in the lungs and airways:

  • The air sacs and airways lose their ability to stretch.
  • The walls of the air sacs are destroyed.
  • The walls of the airways become thickened and inflamed.
  • The airways become clogged with mucus.

These changes reduce the amount of air flowing into and out of the lungs, depriving the body of much-needed oxygen and making it increasingly harder to breathe.

COPD Causes

Our lifestyles may be to blame as exposure to fumes either from cooking, heating or burning is acceptable. Smoking is also a major COPD cause and about 20 percent of chronic smokers will contract COPD. That said, other smokers will have less complex lung conditions but it is also important to note that COPD is often misdiagnosed.

A small percentage of people are at risk of COPD due to genetic disorders which cause low levels of alpha-1-antitrypsin (AAt). AAt is a protein that is produced in the liver before being secreted into the bloodstream where it protects the lungs. Age is a major risk factor when it comes to COPD and although the disease progresses slowly, most symptoms are evident in persons aged between 35 and 40 years old. Occupational exposure to chemicals, fumes and dust could also increase your likelihood of developing COPD.

COPD Symptoms

As you may imagine, COPD symptoms are related to difficulty breathing. However, these symptoms only appear when there has been significant damage to the lungs. The main symptoms include wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, excess mucus in the lungs and a chronic cough which produces a clear, yellow or green sputum.

Other symptoms include repetitive respiratory infections, cyanosis, fatigue and unexplainable weight loss. These symptoms seem to get worse as the COPD progresses and patients suffer from flare up episodes from time to time.

Stem cell Therapy for COPD.

Stem cell therapy is a strategy that introduces new adult stem cells into damaged tissue in order to treat disease or injury. Stem cells are essential to every organism and therefore lungs and share three main characteristics:

  • They can renew themselves through cell division.
  • Although they’re initially indistinguishable, they can differentiate themselves and take on the properties of several different structures and tissues, as the need arises.
  • They can be transplanted into another organism, where they will continue to divide and replicate.

Some stem cells also exist in various structures of the adult body, including the brain, blood, and skin. They’re dormant in the adult body and don’t divide unless activated by an event, such as an illness or injury.

However, they are able to create tissue for other organs and body structures, so they may be used to heal or even regenerate, or regrow, damaged tissue. The stem cells can be extracted from the body and separated from other cells. They’re then returned to the body, where they can begin to promote healing in the affected area.

Researchers see stem cell therapy as a promising new direction for COPD treatment research. They believe stem cells may benefit people with the disease by:

  • reducing inflammation in the airways, which may help prevent further damage
  • building new, healthy lung tissue, which can replace any damaged tissue in the lungs
  • stimulating the formation of new capillaries, which are small blood vessels, in the lungs, which may lead to improved lung function

Autologous stem cell therapy

Up to 40% of smokers develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) over a period that spans decades. In COPD, the normal airway epithelium is replaced with increased basal and secretory (mucous) cells and decreased ciliated cells, suggesting that progenitors are impaired.

An autologous transplant—or rescue—is a type of transplant that uses the person's own stem Stem cells are harvested from either the patient’s blood or bone marrow, then isolated, reconcentrated and readministered onsite through an IV. Treatment is scheduled over two consecutive days and each session lasts 15 to 30 minutes.

The primary focus of treatment is to reduce the inflammation of the lungs. When the stem cells are administered through an IV, they pass through a pulmonary track. Those stem cells and growth factors will then be effective at reducing inflammation.

Stem Cell Therapy

Stem cell therapy could be the breakthrough cure that COPD has been awaiting. Regenerative medicine is now increasingly being used to treat various conditions and COPD is not exempt. Studies have shown stem cell therapy to be safe in those with COPD.

Stem cell therapy can be used in COPD treatment by introducing adult stem cells which can differentiate various cells especially those that are healthy to improve lung functioning. The stem cell therapy can promote the formation of new capillaries leading to tissue repair. In addition, scientists believe that it is possible to produce healthy lung cells with stem cells and treat COPD fully along with decreasing inflammation.

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