Public Release: 

Stem cells shown to regenerate damaged lung tissue for first time

Study adds to evidence of adult stem cells' promising therapeutic role

University of Vermont

BURLINGTON, VT - For the first time, researchers have demonstrated that adult human stem cell transplantation results in spontaneous cell regeneration in damaged lung tissue. Published in the August 1 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, the study further supports an existing body of research that suggests blood- and marrow-derived stem cells have the capacity to become many different human tissues.

"Many of the body's tissues once thought to be only locally regenerative may, in fact, be actively replaced by circulating stem cells after hematopoietic or blood-forming stem cell transplantation," says lead author Benjamin Suratt, M.D., assistant professor of medicine and Vermont Lung Center researcher at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. "This finding is of note not only for its novelty as a regenerative mechanism of the lung, but also for its vast therapeutic implications for any number of lung diseases."

According to Suratt, the study's findings indicate that circulating stem cells are going into organ tissue and repairing damage, which could have a huge impact on the treatment of such devastating lung diseases as emphysema or cystic fibrosis.

Supported by funding from the National Institutes of Health and a National Center for Research Resources Centers for Biomedical Research Excellence grant, Suratt and his colleagues are currently looking further into what types of cells have the capacity to differentiate and generate a different type of cell, and whether these cells might be used to treat cystic fibrosis.

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For more information on research taking place at the Vermont Lung Center at the University of Vermont, go to www.vermontlung.org

To link to the article abstract, go to: ajrccm.atsjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/168/3/318

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