Destroyed lung tissue in the future curable?
smoker's cough is curable in the future: researchers activate the self-healing of the lungs
Can destroyed lung tissue be restored in the future? What hope for millions of people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) would be worldwide, German researchers believe now to have achieved: They specifically used the natural repair process of the lungs to rebuild destroyed tissue.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD) are the diseases of the lung characterized by coughing, increased sputum, and dyspnoea during exercise. In modern industrialized nations, such as the US, COPD is the fourth leading cause of death, and of the ten most common deaths, COPD is the only one whose incidence is increasing, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Cause of the illnesses is often a year-long cigarette consumption, so that COPD colloquially as well „Chronic Obstructive pulmonary Disease“ referred to as. COPD is not curable so far, but for the first time there is reason to hope. Because the scientists around Dr. Dr. Melanie Königshoff at the Comprehensive Pneumology Center of Helmholtz Zentrum München has demonstrated on the mouse model that disrupted lung tissue can be restored by activating a specific signaling pathway for cell communication. Now, the researchers also hope in humans in the future to be able to reverse the life-threatening loss of lung tissue caused by COPD.
Like the researchers of the Helmholtz Zentrum München in the current issue of the specialist magazine „American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine“ They used the ability of the lung tissue to repair themselves. This is in principle also given in COPD patients, however, the so-called WNT signaling pathway, which is crucial for the reconstruction of the lung tissue, is inhibited by the disease. In their study, however, the scientists were able to artificially reactivate the WNT signaling pathway in mice and thus significantly inhibit the development of emphysema, that is, the irreversible hyperinflation of the alveoli as COPD progresses. As a result, the lung function of the examined mice has improved significantly again, according to the scientists of the Munich Helmholtz Zentrum.
As a next step, the scientists hope for Dr. Dr. Melanie Königshoff to integrate the newly discovered impact context in the design of therapies for the treatment of COPD. „Our goal now is to understand the WNT mechanism in more detail in order to develop concrete therapeutic approaches“, emphasized the expert from the Helmholtz Center. If it is possible to activate the WNT signaling pathway similarly in humans, as in experiments with mice, the lung architecture and thus the lung function of the COPD patients should be significantly improved, the researchers hope. Loss of lung tissue may be repairable. (Fp)
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Picture: Gerd Altmann