Durham, NC – In a study released today in STEM CELLS Translational Medicine (SCTM), a team led by researchers at the Eugenia Menni Research Centre (CREM) in Brescia, Italy, show for the first time how stem cells collected from human amniotic membrane (one of the two fetal membranes forming the amniotic sac, which surrounds the fetus during pregnancy and is generally discarded after a baby’s birth) can slow the progression of scarring in pulmonary fibrosis. This pre-clinical study could lead to new treatments for this deadly disease.
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is characterized by scarring of the lung tissue. Over time, the scarring (fibrosis) worsens until the lungs cannot take in enough oxygen, affecting the person’s quality of life and eventually leading to death. Worldwide, IPF affects 13 to 20 out of every 100,000 people, according to the National Institutes of Health. While current medications (and in some instances, a lung transplant) can extend a patient’s life beyond the three to five years previously predicted from time of diagnosis until death, there is no cure.
The cause of IPF is unknown, although many medical experts believe that it likely results from a combination of genetic and environmental