Regenerative medicine has the potential to provide innovative new therapies for people with lung diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary fibrosis, cystic fibrosis, pulmonary arterial hypertension and bronchiolitis obliterans.
In their end stages, these diseases are today treated with medications or lung transplants, though there is an ongoing shortage of donor lungs that are acceptable for transplantation.
Research into lung preservation, lung recellularization and stem cell biology in the Center for Regenerative Medicine is leading to the development of new regenerative therapies for people with a wide range of lung diseases. Research in this areas is focused on recellularization of decellularized lungs and stem cell engimeering.
Mayo Clinic researchers are studying lung decellularization and recellularization toward a goal of on-demand production of patient-specific, transplant-ready lungs.
Lung decellularization involves removing all the cells from a donor lung, leaving behind just a tissue scaffold that can be recellularized (repopulated) with induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells derived from a patient's own cells. Mayo researchers are working toward generating a functioning lung suitable for transplantation by recellularizing a decellularized porcine lung.
Given these promising results in animal models, Mayo investigators are now working to recellularize human lungs. They're also populating decellularized matrix fragments with iPS cells to determine how iPS cells can optimally be made to differentiate into various types of lung cells.
Stem cell engineering. To better understand how to effectively and consistently produce patient-specific iPS cells for lung-related clinical applications, Mayo Clinic researchers are conducting a clinical trial in which they generate iPS cells from skin fibroblasts of people with various end-stage lung diseases.
With further research, investigators believe these iPS cells could be differentiated into patient-specific pulmonary epithelial cells and delivered back to the patient by way of cell therapy.