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Stem Cells Repair Acute Lung Injury in Mice

Study findings may lead to way to prevent this cause of death in people

THURSDAY, Nov. 5, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- Adult stem cells from bone marrow can prevent acute lung injury in mice, U.S. researchers report.

Acute lung injury, which is caused by major inflammation or injury to the lungs, causes about 74,500 deaths each year in the United States. There is no effective drug treatment for the condition, which is a major cause of death among patients in intensive care units.

A team at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine identified progenitor stem cells in the bone marrow of mice that could prevent and treat acute lung injury. The researchers also found a way to culture the cells -- called Flk-1 and CD34 -- to increase their numbers and ability to attach to targets and make repairs.

When the purified and cultured Flk-1 and CD34 stem cells were injected into mice with acute lung injury, the cells repaired the lung injury, prevented fluid build-up and improved survival of the mice, the researchers found.

The study not only showed that stem cell treatment may be a promising therapy for acute lung injury, "but also provided us with the means to understand how these progenitor cells did their repair work. These therapeutic cells employed integrins to stick to the site of injury and turn on cellular and molecular repair machinery," lead author Kishore Wary, an assistant professor of pharmacology, said in a university news release.

The researchers hope to test this stem cell therapy in human acute lung injury.

The study was published recently in the online edition of the journal Stem Cells.

More information

Oregon State University has more about common lung injuries.

SOURCE: University of Illinois at Chicago, news release, Oct. 28, 2009
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