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Stem-cell breakthrough December 11, 2009

Posted by Dreamhealer in Lung Cancer, Research, Stem Cells.
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By KRISTY BROWNLEE   Nov 2009

An Edmonton scientist and his international team have discovered stem cells heal damaged lungs in newborn rats — a finding they anticipate will help premature babies with chronic lung disease.

After stem cells produced from bone marrow were injected into the baby rats, their lungs repaired and healed, said Dr. Bernard Thebaud, researcher and neonatal specialist at Stollery Children’s Hospital’s intensive care unit at Royal Alexandra Hospital.

Rats were also put on treadmills and ran twice as long with the therapy.

“These findings have direct implications because they suggest that we could use stem cell-based therapies to prevent lung diseases or regenerate an already damaged lung,” said Thebaud.

As a scientist and a doctor working with premature babies, Thebaud has seen first-hand the devastating implications underdeveloped infants suffer.

About half of babies born before 28 weeks gestation will get chronic lung disease and experience reduced lung capacity later in life.

But researchers are carefully studying the long-term effects of the process to be sure the treatment doesn’t cause tumours.

To reduce that risk, researchers are analyzing the healing liquid that is produced by the stem cells. If the fluid can be produced in petri dishes, the stem cells may not need to be injected, said Thebaud.

“That healing liquid seems to boost the power of healthy lung cells and helps them to repair the lungs.”

The research team has scientists and physicians from France, Illinois and Quebec.

Clinical trials on premature infants could begin in three to five years.

The findings, to be published in December’s American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, could also help older patients suffering from emphysema, lung fibrosis and acute respiratory distress.

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