Saturday, May 13, 2017

Need a New Lung? They'll Make One in the Lab - Science

Picture of a lung organoid.

Credit: ????Snoeck lab/Columbia University Medical Center

New lung "organoids" -- tiny 3-D structures that mimic features of a full-sized lung -- have been created from human pluripotent stem cells by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC). The team used the organoids to generate models of human lung diseases in a lab dish, which could be used to advance our understanding of a variety of respiratory diseases.

A paper detailing the discovery was published in the April 24 online issue of Nature Cell Biology.

Science Daily:  New lung 'organoids' in a dish mimic features of full-size lung

You can see the stage of the research is early so it's not going to make new lungs for me ... however ...

Organoids are 3-D structures containing multiple cell types that look and function like a full-sized organ. By reproducing an organ in a dish, researchers hope to develop better models of human diseases, and find new ways of testing drugs and regenerating damaged tissue.

"Researchers have taken up the challenge of creating organoids to help us understand and treat a variety of diseases," said Hans-Willem Snoeck, PhD, professor of medicine (in Microbiology & Immunology) at CUMC and lead investigator of the study. "But we have been tested by our limited ability to create organoids that can replicate key features of human disease."

- SD

It seems their purpose is not so much to make new lungs but help repair the ones you have already.

RSV is a major cause of lower respiratory tract infection in infants and has no vaccine or effective antiviral therapy. Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a condition that causes scarring in the lungs, causes 30,000 to 40,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. A lung transplant is the only cure for this condition.

"Organoids, created with human pluripotent or genome-edited embryonic stem cells, may be the best, and perhaps only, way to gain insight into the pathogenesis of these diseases," Dr. Snoeck says.

- SD

There's the conclusion and further confirmation their purpose is therapeutic rather than total replacement.  That's not quite so dramatic but is nevertheless vital since lung troubles don't come only to smokers.  Andy Kaufman, one of the looniest comedians ever, died from lung cancer in his 30s (I believe) but he never smoked cigarettes.

For another, there's the black lung disease which was plaguing coal miners until the industry started shutting down.  There are many ways lungs get damaged and this research probably won't help self-abusive punk ass smokers such as myself but it may well help others.

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