Stem Cell Therapy as COPD Treatment Seen to Offer Benefits

Margarida Azevedo, MSc avatar

by Margarida Azevedo, MSc |

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Researchers at the Lung Institute detailed the benefits of autologous stem cell therapy in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), through an analysis of the treatment’s effects in one of the largest cohorts of these patients.

The white paper, authored by Dr. Jack Coleman Jr., MD, was titled “Autologous Stem Cell Therapy and its Effects on COPD: A Pilot Study,” and published on the institute’s website.

In treatment provided at Lung Institute, autologous stem cells (hematopoietic stem cells and mesenchymal stromal cells), were harvested from a patient by withdrawing adipose tissue, bone marrow, or circulating (peripheral) blood. The harvested cells were isolated, concentrated and then reintroduced into the patient’s body either through pulmonary circulation vessels (venous protocol) or the airways (adipose tissue protocol).

The research team followed about 100 COPD patients who had undergone the therapy, under either the adipose or venous protocol, to evaluate the effects of stem cell therapy on pulmonary function and quality of life. Patients were assessed through a Pulmonary Function Test (PFT) and Clinical COPD Questionnaire (CCQ), a survey that measures two distinct outcomes — the Quality of Life Score (QLS) and the Quality Improvement Score (QIS).

Results indicated that, within three months of treatment, 35.5 percent of the COPD patients had an increase in their QLS, while 84 percent reported QIS improvement. Tests for pulmonary function, conducted on all participants but limited to 25 for reporting purposes (because of information release concerns) showed that 48 percent of those patients experienced an increase of over 10 percent in function compared to baseline, with an average increase of 16 percent. A small decline was observed in the three- to six-month post-treatment period, with QLS dropping to 32 percent and the QIS  to 77 percent.

“Although research on the use of autologous stem cells is still in its early stages, it has shown substantive progress in treating patients with few, if any, adverse effects. COPD is currently the third leading cause of death in the United States, and we’re giving our patients an alternative option that doesn’t just mask the symptoms,” Dr. Coleman concluded in a press release.