A new study shows that lung cells can regenerate on their own as long as they suffer no damage.It appears that lung cells have the ability to regenerate themselves when needed to repair damaged tissue, which shows that our system has much more flexibility then experts have thought, explained chief of the Cell and Development Biology department, Jon Epstein.
The study has been conducted by experts from the Perelman School of Medicine from the University of Pennsylvania and Duke University and it has been published din the journal Nature.
What is curious about this process, is that the regenerating cells are not the standard stem cells, but they are mature cells that interfere when injury occurs. Medical experts are looking to understand how this process occurs and how exactly do lungs regenerate.
This could allow scientists to find new ways for treating patients suffering from diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, added Epstein.
There are two types of cells in the lungs. Type 1 cells are involved the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the body and type 2 cells is in charge of producing a substance called surfactant, which keep the channels trough which air travels, opened.
Both of this cell types are different from one another but they can transform into one another if the situation asks for it.
The research team, made experiments on mice and have removed a part of the lung and single cell culture to analyse the flexibility of the two types of cells while the lung is re growing. The experiment discovered that type 1 cells can bring out type 2 cells and the other way around.
Researchers noticed that new cells grew back in the affected areas of the lung. It is an interesting phenomenon to watch, as it appears as if the lungs is aware of the fact that is has to regenerate and knows that can bring in type 1 cells to help the progress of the process, explained an expert involved in the study and cardiologist at the Department of Medicine, Rajan Jain.
Experts were curious to know, if type 1 cells would have this property, as past studies have already demonstrated that type 2 cells can create surfactant and act as regenerative factor in mice experiments.
Scientists want to believe that this new finding will help them in treating different lung diseases like severe respiratory distress and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, which is a condition that makes it difficult for enough oxygen to reach the blood.
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