Progress with regenerative medicine is supporting the development of a new type of asthma treatment that has the potential to reduce asthma attacks and repair lung damage.
In this article:
- Asthma Attack Cases in the U.S.
- What is Asthma and an Asthma Attack?
- Stem Cell Treatment for Asthma
- Stem Cell Therapy for Other Respiratory Conditions
Asthma Treatment Using Stem Cell Injections
Could stem cells potentially play a role in the treatment and management of asthma? The future certainly looks promising.
Asthma Attack Cases in the U.S.
One in every 12 people suffer from asthma. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 12 million people who suffered from asthma attacks in 2008. The year before that, the number of missed work days and school days due to asthma amounted to a cost of $56 billion.
However, the biggest problem with severe asthma attacks in the U.S. is the fatality of this condition. Circumstances in which patients are not within reach of an inhaler or immediate medical care in a hospital can result in brain damage and death. The lack of permanent treatments for asthma continues to increase these risks.
Fortunately, there is a new type of asthma treatment in regenerative medicine which can lessen the occurrence of attacks and cure asthma. Stem cells have the potential to treat it by addressing its root cause, but first, it’s important to understand this condition and what is an asthma attack.
What Is Asthma and an Asthma Attack?
Asthma is a respiratory condition in which the breathing pathways become swollen or inflamed and blocked by mucus during an asthma attack. People who suffer from asthma attacks have a hard time breathing because the air can’t pass through.
What Causes Asthma Attacks?
Asthma is mostly a hereditary condition but there is no known definite cause for asthma. Asthma can also be a reaction to pollutants or dust. The immune system treats these environmental irritants as foreign invaders which results in an inflammatory immune response which causes an asthma attack.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of an Asthma Attack?
The most common symptom of asthma is sensitivity to particles in the air which can be triggers for asthma. If a person is having an asthma attack, they may show signs of:
The Dangers of Untended Asthma Attacks
These asthma attacks can lead to permanent damage due to the reduced amount of oxygen traveling into the body. Apart from fatality and brain damage, there are also non-fatal results the patient can suffer from:
- shortness of breath
- chest tightness
- increased need for inhalers for asthma
Stem Cell Treatment for Asthma
Temporary measures like inhalers are utilized to bring down the inflammation of the airways during an attack. Stem cell therapy has the potential to treat this respiratory condition by replacing the malfunctioning bodily systems, such as the immune system and damaged lung tissue.
What Are Stem Cells?
Stem cells were discovered over a hundred years ago and in this century, scientists found a way to derive stem cells. These cells can differentiate into specialized cells and tissues which make up the human body. Different types of stem cells have different capabilities:
- Totipotent stem cells can turn into any kind of tissue and cell in the human body.
- Pluripotent stem cells can differentiate into different types of human body cells.
- Multipotent stem cells can transform into tissue-specific cells. An example is a hematopoietic stem cell turning into any kind of blood cell.
Stem cell therapy introduces these cells into the body to help itself repair and regenerate. They can replace damaged cells and tissues, and in some treatments help regulate healthier cells to regenerate.
How Does Stem Cell Therapy for Asthma Work?
Instead of simply reacting to these attacks, the stem cells will target the root cause of this allergic response. We’ve discussed that asthma is a respiratory condition and an asthma attack occurs due to an immune response to pollutants in the air. Introducing stem cells into the body will target these areas to help repair the malfunctioning systems in the:
- Immune system; stem cells may mitigate malfunctioning responses in the system to reduce the occurrence of asthma attacks.
- Lungs; the lungs can be damaged from these attacks and the stem cells can replace the damaged tissues to keep the lungs in a healthy condition. Stem cells can also exert anti-inflammatory effects.
What Happens in an Asthma Stem Cell Therapy?
Stem cell therapy starts with harvesting the stem cells from a donor. Pluripotent stem cells are more abundant in prenatal sources, whereas adults have none of this type of stem cell. However, physicians can harvest multipotent stem cells from adults.
These stem cells are usually cultured in a lab until there are large enough quantities for treatment. They combine the cells with growth factors and other ingredients to stimulate the cells to develop. Afterward, they inject the stem cells into the asthma patient to let the cells repair the lungs and mitigate the immune system response.
One company exploring the use of stem cells in the treatment of asthma is the Australian stem cell company, Cynata Therapeutics. In October 2016, Cynata released data suggesting that its unique Cymerus™ mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) may have potential clinical use as a treatment for asthma. It found that intranasal administration of its Cymerus™ MSCs completely normalised airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) in a mouse model of asthma.
Put simply, Cynata’s stem cell product (created by its unique Cymerus™ technology), reduces asthma symptoms in mice.
Stem Cell Therapy for Other Respiratory Conditions
Stem cells may also be used for bronchitis treatment. Bronchitis and other respiratory conditions are also caused by immune responses which result in the closing of the respiratory pathways, which can be cured by this breathing treatment. Stem cell therapy has the potential to be used in the treatment of various illnesses caused by lung damage, including:
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Cystic fibrosis
- Chronic inflammatory lung disease
To know more about stem cell therapy, watch this video from BioInformant:
Further research into stem cell therapy for lung diseases can lead to treatments for diseases such as emphysema or pneumonia. In the meantime, research on asthma treatment using stem cell therapy is evolving. Within the next two decades, we may be seeing a significant decrease in people suffering from asthma.
If you found this blog valuable, subscribe to BioInformant’s stem cell industry updates.
As the first and only market research firm to specialize in the stem cell industry, BioInformant research is cited by The Wall Street Journal, Xconomy, AABB, and Vogue Magazine. Bringing you breaking news on an ongoing basis, we encourage you to join more than half a million loyal readers, including physicians, scientists, executives, and investors.
Do you have more questions about asthma treatment using pluripotent stem cell injections? Mention them in the comments section below.