Human Lung Stem Cell Does All the Tricks

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease benefits from stem cell breakthrough

(RxWiki News) Which three properties does a cell have to have to be called a stem cell? It has to be self-renewing, able to form into different types of cells and capable of carrying across to another person.

Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital have identified just that in a human lung cell making it the first identified true human lung stem cell.

"Lung stem cell applications may offer new treatments."

Piero Anversa, MD, director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital and corresponding author explains that  locating, for the first time, a true human lung stem cell will potentially offer novel treatment options for those suffering from lung disease. The regenerative and renewing qualities offered by stem cells will give hope of improved lung health to patients.

Joseph Loscalzo, MD, PhD, chair of the Department of Medicine at BWH and co-author adds these first critical steps are essential for developing treatments down the road especially in lung diseases where there are no treatment options. 

The Study

  • Using surgically retrieved lung tissue, researchers identified and isolated the human lung stem cell and tested for the three qualities a stem cell must have in vitro and in vivo
  • Once isolated, researchers showed in vitro that the cell was capable of dividing both into new stem cells
  • Researchers also showed stem cells would grow into various types of lung tissue
  • Next, researchers injected the stem cell into mice with damaged lungs and the stem cells differentiated into new bronchioles, alveoli and pulmonary vessel cells 
  • Stem cells were able to form new lung tissue and integrate structurally to existing damaged lung tissue in the mice
Review Date: 
May 12, 2011