Incurable lung diseases pose a major challenge to medical science. Cystic fibrosis, asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, cancer, hyaline membrane disease and emphysema are examples of diseases that may be eventually conquered by stem cell therapies. However, due to its geometrical complexity it is difficult to deliver therapeutic agents to the diseased regions of the lung where they may effect cures. Fortunately, the use of other inhaled medicines has progressed to the point where stem cell delivery can now be considered. Aerosol treatments are typically painless and very effective.
The challenges to therapy with inhaled stem cells are many, including; cell survival during the process of aerosolization, delivery of cells to the proper disease- specific region(s) of the lungs, and providing support for the stem cells, post deposition, that will allow them to survive and become properly established.
Our project systematically attacks these challenges by establishing a team with competence in aerosol science, inhaled aerosol deposition, and clinical pulmonary medicine. Completion of this pilot project will lay the foundation for developing specific new therapies for lung diseases.
Many Californians suffer from incurable and even untreatable lung diseases. This project has the goal of developing aerosol delivery systems for human embryonic stem cells so that the advances in stem cell biology can be used to treat lung disease. California could become a world leader in treating patients with lung diseases such as cystic fibrosis, asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, cancer, hayline membrane disease, and emphysema. Another benefit is that aerosol treatments for lung diseases are typically, painless, do not require anesthesia, and tend to have fewer side effects than do alternative forms of administration. Projecting into the future, microgravity medicine will permit the administering of stem cells deeper into the lung because the deposition in bronchial airways by the sedimentation mechanism will be absent. California's significant role in space may thus be enhanced.