Scientists from Imperial College, London, report that they have successfully turned mouse stem cells into the type of lung cell that absorbs oxygen and excretes carbon dioxide. The scientists believe that the possibility of using stem cells to do the same in humans - to regenerate damaged lung tissue or even create artificially grown lungs - has been brought one step closer.
Dr Anne Bishop, from the Imperial College Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Centre, where the work was carried out, said 'this research will make it possible eventually to repair lungs that have been damaged by disease, by implanting fully functioning lung cells to repopulate damaged areas. Also, unlike transplantation from a donor, the cells can be developed in such a way that the body will not reject them'.
The mouse stem cells were placed in a growth solution which encouraged them to develop into the new cell type - a cell that normally lines the part of the lung responsible for gas exchange. Professor Julian Polak, director of the Centre said 'this is the first time research of this nature has been carried out and it has provided us with a crucial building block towards being able to construct lung tissue'.
Sources and References
Mouse embryo cells coaxed to become lung cells