Researchers Find Lung Stem Cell, Heal Lung Injury in Mice

Source: Stanford University Medical Center.

Summary: Researchers have found the lung stem cell which helps in healing the damaged lung tissue and make up the healthy lung in mice.

Lungs are considered as the vital organs of the human body. Lungs in conjunction with the cardiovascular system allow air to each and every cell and get rid of the waste (carbon dioxide). A lung is divided into two compartments – airway which allows the passage of air in and out of the lung; and alveoli where gases move in an out of the blood. For people with lung diseases in the end stages, the only option left is lung transplantation. Researchers from Stanford University Medical Center have found the lung stem cell which helps in healing the damaged lung tissue and make up the healthy lung in mice. They succeeded in isolating lung stem cells from the mouse, grow them in large volumes and incorporate them into injured lung tissues in mice. The research findings were published in the journal Nature Methods.

Multipotent lung stem cells

An image of an injured mouse lung partially regenerated by injected lung stem cells. The newly regenerated lung tissue is red, and the type-2 alveolar cells are green. Credit: Massimo Nichane

Previously other researchers isolated one stem cell for the airway and the another for the alveoli. But Loh and his colleagues found a single lung stem cell for both airway and alveoli. These multipotent stem cells displayed a protein marker called Sox9. They were also successful in making them multiply dramatically into 100 billion billion lung stem cells over the period of six months. This research raises hopes for regenerative therapies that can heal intractable lung diseases in the near future.

Dr. Kyle Loh PhD said, “Our newfound ability to grow these mouse multipotent lung stem cells in a petri dish in very large numbers, and the cells’ ability to regenerate both lung airway and alveolar tissue, constitutes a first step towards future lung regenerative therapies”, “Future work will focus on whether analogous multipotent stem cells can be found and cultivated from humans, which may open the way to eventually replenishing damaged lung tissue in the clinic.

More Information: Massimo Nichane et al, “Isolation and 3D expansion of multipotent Sox9+ mouse lung progenitors”, Nature Methods (2017). DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.4498

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