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Study: Lab-Grown Mini Lungs Will Help To Study Respiratory Diseases

Offering a potential new tool to study respiratory diseases, researchers have transplanted lab-grown mini lungs. (Image Courtesy: Google)

Stem cells are the primary cell of any human which is responsible for complete cell construction of human body. Scientists are even using this stem cells to clone individual and produce exact replica of them. With this technology one can generate artificial organs of human body which can effectively replace the defective ones.

Keeping this in mind, researchers at the University of Michigan have transplanted lab-grown mini lungs into immunosuppressed mice. There they were able to survive, grow and mature.

Jason Spence, Ph.D. has grown 3-D models of various organs from stem cells, creating new ways to study disease. (Image Courtesy: Google)
Jason Spence, Ph.D. has grown 3-D models of various organs from stem cells, creating new ways to study disease. (Image Courtesy: Google)

Potential tool for lung disease

  • Jason Spence, Ph. D., associate professor in the Department of Internal Medicine and the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at the U-M Medical school says, “In many ways, the transplanted mini lungs were indistinguishable from human adult tissue.”
  • Findings were published in eLife and is described by authors as a potential new tool for studying lung disease. Respiratory diseases are accounting for about 1 to 5 deaths worldwide. Even the lung cancer survival rates are quite poor despite of numerous therapeutic advancements during the past 30 years.
  • This numbers are highlighting the need for newer, physiologically relevant models for the case of translational lung research. Lab grown lungs can further prove to be beneficial as they are providing human model for screen drugs, understanding gene function and understanding transplantable tissue. It can even help in studying complex human diseases which includes asthma.
  • Lead author of the study named Briana Dye, who is a graduate student in the U-M Department of cell and Developmental Biology has used numerous signal pathways being involved with cell growth and organ formation. It was done to coax stem cells which are the body’s master cells for making miniature lungs.

Research Analysis

  • Previous study of researchers has showed mini lungs being grown in a dish which consisted of structures which exemplified both of the airways. This airways helps to move air in and out of the body, which are termed as bronchi. The small lung sacs are called alveoli. They are critical for gas exchange during breathing process.
  • For overcoming the disorganised and immature structure, researchers has attempted for transplanting the miniature lungs into mice. It is an approach which has been widely adopted in stem cell field. Several initial strategies for transplanting the mini lungs into mice were quite unsuccessful.
  • While working with Lonnie Shea, Ph. D., professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Michigan, team has used a biodegradable scaffold. It was developed for transplanting tissue into animals, for achieving successful transplantation of the mini lungs into mice.
  • Scaffold is providing a stiff structure for helping the airway to reach its maturity. Dye further adding to the same says, “In just eight weeks, the resulting transplanted tissue had impressive tube-shaped airway structures similar to the adult lung airways.”
  • Researchers has characterised the transplanted mini lungs as well developed tissue which possessed a highly organized epithelial layer lining of the lungs. One of the drawback of this was that alveolar cell types were not growing into transplants. Still, several specialised lung cell types were present which include mucus-producing cells, multiciliated cells and even stem cells found in the adult lung.

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