Stem Cell Treatments for COPD: What’s New
The American Thoracic Society recently published an update on stem cell treatments for those with lung disease. The report appeared in the Public Health Information Series in the journal American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, volume 195, pages 13-14.
What are Stem Cells? Every organ in the body has a small number of stem cells that can replace or repair damaged tissue. However, there is still a lot to learn about stem cell types and how they work. Researchers are actively working to find a way to stimulate stem cells to repair parts of the lung.
Are Stem Cell Treatments a Possibility for COPD? In theory, yes. At the present time, there are NO proven stem cell therapies for any lung disease. The best way to find whether stem cell treatments are effective and safe is by research studies.
Are There Unproven Stem Cell Treatments? Unproven means that the therapy has not been shown to work or be effective. Hundreds of clinics offer unproven treatments using stem cells in the United States and elsewhere. Typically, cells are removed from a person’s fat or bone marrow, and then the cells are given back to the person in the blood (intravenously). This approach has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Could Stem Cell Treatments be Harmful? Risks include cells sticking or clotting in the blood vessels of the lungs and cells causing abnormal growth including tumors. In addition, some clinics may not meet normal standards of sterility (preventing infection),
Are Unproven Stem Cell Treatments Covered by Health Insurance? No. Those who choose to receive such treatments have to pay all costs on their own and will not be reimbursed by insurance companies.
Summary Stem cell treatments are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treatment of any lung disease including COPD. The only option is to participate in a clinical research study. Information about such trials can be found on the website – www.clinicaltrials.gov.