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Stem Cell Therapy (SCT) is still in its nascent stage. Research and clinical trials are going on all across the globe to unveil the true potential of stem cells. Clinical investigations using stem cell products in regenerative medicine are addressing a wide spectrum of conditions using a variety of stem cell types. To date, there have been few reports of safety issues arising from autologous or allogeneic transplants. Many cells administered show transient presence for a few days with tropic influences on immune or inflammatory responses.

In year 2017, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine has published article entitled “Unproven Stem Cell Treatments for Lung Disease—An Emerging Public Health Problem”.  The article informs readers on current status of SCT for ILD. As per article as of 2017 there are no clear evidence of proven stem cell therapy for any lung disease. However many clinical trials are ongoing where in interested patients have participated in legitimate clinical trials.

First results of one such trial are presented in the May 2017 issue of Chest by Glassberg et al. They report on the relative safety of a single infusion of allogeneic human mesenchymal stem cells in 9 patients with mild-moderate Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis over a period of 60 weeks.

Of six currently listed IPF stem cell trials, one clearly stands out: Clinical Efficacy and Safety of Autologous Lung Stem Cell Transplantation in Patients with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (NCT02745184).

The study by Zuo et al (Nature, 2015) has clearly confirmed the role of specific distal airway stem cells in lung regeneration. Same study is in clinical trial phase 1, 2 where autologous bronchus derived stem cells are being used for targeted therapy directly into the lung lesion after lavage.

The obtained scientific results and ongoing clinical trial results are clear-cut indication of significant efficacy of stem cells in ILD as the stem cells have shown the capacity of the patient’s own lung cells to contribute to lung repair.

For Scientific literature please refer to following articles:

Unproven Stem Cell Treatments for Lung Disease – An Emerging Public Health Problem. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2017 Apr 1;195(7):13-4.

Glassberg et al. Allogeneic human mesenchymal stem cells in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis via intravenous delivery (AETHER): a phase I, safety, clinical trial. Chest. 2017 May;151(5):971-81.

Zuo et al. p63(+)Krt5(+) distal airway stem cells are essential for lung regeneration.  Nature. 2015 Jan 29;517(7536):616-20.