London researchers have successfully implanted lung cells grown from embryonic stem cells into the lungs of mice. Stem cell therapy holds the hope of repairing diseased organs, such as the lung, with laboratory-grown tissue or cells. The British team had already cultivated lung cells and were testing to see if the cells were capable of embedding themselves into the lung. Not only was it successful, the specialized tissue was found nowhere else, but in the lung. Researchers know that human applica- tions are far into the future as they need to determine the exact function and longevity of the grafted stem cells, as well as possible toxicity problems.
A study in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine reports Canadian investigators found people with Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease on inhaled steroids were 70 percent more likely to be hospitalized with pneumonia and to have a more severe form of the disease. Today, about half of those with COPD are prescribed to take inhaled steroids. Further studies are being planned.
In the same journal is an article by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, who found symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea can be significantly reduced by using a nasal cannula to deliver warm, humidified air at a high flow rate.
Prolastin is a medication given to people with a genetic form of emphysema called Alpha One Antitrypsin Deficiency. It is now usually given intravenously week- ly but Talecris Biotherapeutics, Inc. has demonstrated that using the new AKITA2® APIXNEB® system to inhale Prolastin results in very high levels of the drug being deposited in the lungs.
There has been a complete overhaul of COPD treat- ment guidelines by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD). The staging catego- ry has been eliminated and new recommendations for antibiotic use during exacerbations were made by health professionals from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute and the World Health Organization. We will bring you more details in our next issue from the group who calls COPD “preventable and treatable.”