For the first time researchers have found a type of stem cell that could prove crucial in reducing injury and scarring in the lung and even generate new lung cells.
A recent study has revealed that human cells isolated from the placenta could potentially heal lung injuries in patients.
Lead researcher, associate professor Yuben Moodley (formerly of the Alfred Hospital and Monash University, Melbourne) who now works at the Lung Institute of Western Australia, at The University of Western Australia, and as a Physician at Royal Perth Hospital said: ‘The investigation could provide hope for patients suffering from lung damage.
‘In Australia one in four are affected by serious lung conditions. Globally lung diseases cause many deaths and disabilities, with most lung conditions responding poorly to traditional medicines. Cellular therapies, although in the early stages of development, may form a vital part of future life-saving treatments.'
The research carried out in collaboration with Dr Ursula Manuelpillai, from the Monash Institute of Medical Research, is published in the June issue of the prestigious American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
Co-author Emeritus Professor Alan Trounson, President of the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (and former Director of Monash Immunology and Stem Cell laboratories) said: ‘This study makes a very significant contribution to the potential repair of lung injury. It adopts a new approach to cell therapy utilising a type of cell that is available in large numbers and is particularly effective in lung repair.'
Professor Philip Thompson, director of LIWA stated: ‘It is critical to have people of Professor Moodley's calibre working in Perth, Australia, making significant advances in stem cell research. This can only result in better outcomes for people suffering with serious lung diseases, which are so common in our community.'