ICYMI: People with IPF May Breathe Easier with New Stem Cell Treatment

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), it’s easy to become discouraged by the lack of medical options. Although almost 50,000 people a year are diagnosed with this fatal lung disease, there is no cure.

Until the past decade, there were very few treatments, aside from lung transplant or oxygen therapy. Today there are medications that can slow the progress of this disease, which causes scarring in the lungs, critically impairing function.

But, In Case You Missed It: This month, researchers at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and North Carolina State University published their second study announcing that they had successfully harvested lung stem cells to be used for therapeutic treatment in people with IPF. In rodents, the treatment was successful in reversing the effects of lung fibrosis. The donated cells were accepted by the host without reaction.

In humans, the healthy lung spheroid cells would be harvested from the patient, a donor network similar to those used by other organs.

The team of scientists are now preparing their application to the FDA for the first clinical trials. If approved, they hope to test the stem cells in IPF patients, although the therapy may be a life-saver for those with other lung diseases as well.

The study, which was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health, may be a breath of fresh air for those struggling with this debilitating disease.

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