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Microscopic packets of stem cell factors could be key to preventing lung disease in babies
Date:10/31/2012

Boston, Mass.Researchers at Boston Children's Hospital have found that microscopic particles containing proteins and nucleic acids called exosomes could potentially protect the fragile lungs of premature babies from serious lung diseases and chronic lung injury caused by inflammation.

The findings explain earlier research suggesting that while transplanting a kind of stem cell called mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) could help reduce lung injury and prevent inflammation in a mouse model, the fluid in which the cells were grown was more effective than the cells themselves.

The research teamled by Stella Kourembanas, MD, and S. Alex Mitsialis, PhD, and spearheaded by led by Changjin Lee, PhD, all of the Division of Newborn Medicine at Boston Children'spublished their findings online on October 31 in the journal Circulation.

Premature babies often struggle to get enough oxygen into their underdeveloped lungs, resulting in hypoxia and the need for ventilator assistance to breathe. Their lungs are particularly susceptible to inflammation, which can lead to poor lung growth and chronic lung disease. Inflammation is also often associated with pulmonary hypertension (PH)dangerously high blood pressure in the pulmonary artery (the vessel that carries blood from the heart to the lungs), which can have both short- and long-term consequences.

"PH is a complex disease fueled by diverse, intertwined cellular and molecular pathways," according to Kourembanas, who chairs Boston Children's Newborn Medicine division. "We have treatments that improve symptoms but no cure, largely because of this complexity. We need to be able to target more than one pathway at a time."

In 2009, Kourembanas, Mitsialis and others showed that injection of MSCs could prevent PH and chronic lung injury in a newborn mouse model of the disease. The results were puzzling, though, because the team found that few of the injected stem cells actually engrafte
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Contact: Meghan Weber
rob.graham@childrens.harvard.edu
617-919-3110
Boston Children's Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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