Cystic fibrosis can cause numerous lung infections that will lead to lung damage and a weaker respiratory system. Scientists have therefore taken to researching different rehabilitation methods on repairing lung damage. There have been a number of recent breakthroughs in lung rehabilitation, but one of the most interesting ones involves the use of stem cell research.
Researchers in the European and Respiratory Society performed a study investigating the effects of Mesenchymal stem cell therapy on a mouse model with chronic inflammatory lung disease (this mimics characteristics of lung disease and cystic fibrosis in humans). The researchers sought to determine whether stem cell therapy would be effective in slowing the degeneration of the lungs and stopping lung infections.
This study was presented at the Lung Science Conference, an international gathering which highlights experimental lung treatments that have therapeutic potential in treating cystic fibrosis and other lung disorders.
Researchers delivered stem cells into the veins of mice 4 to 6 weeks of age that showed some signs of lung infection and inflammation. The researchers then collected tissue samples and cells from the lungs of the infected mice. They then compared these findings with mice that were not given the stem cell therapy treatment.
The results of the study were very promising. Samples in the group given the stem cells showed significantly reduced lung inflammation and reduced counts of monocytic cells and neutrophils (which are known to cause lung inflammation). The stem cell therapy also reduced measures of lung destruction and other lung structure issues.
Researchers commented that the results of the study demonstrated a potential effectiveness in treating lung damage with stem cell therapy. Counteracting the inflammation in the lungs could potentially reduce the damage done by cystic fibrosis and other lung infections. Overall, this study is great news for those trying to treat cystic fibrosis and other lung conditions.
While this study certainly gives a great outlook on treating cystic fibrosis, there a few things you should know about it.
Firstly, this study is experimental and one of the first of its kind. There would certainly need to be more tests and research done before stem cell therapy was implemented in cystic fibrosis treatments. Repetition would be key to making sure that stem cells are a reliable treatment option. There also would have to be a lot more focus put on the negative side effects and practical obstacles that stem cells would bring to therapy methods.
Another aspect to consider is that this study was done on animals, namely mice. While testing on animals does not make a study irrelevant, there are some aspects that may not translate to human trials. While mice do have similar respiratory systems to humans, something that works for them will not necessarily work on a human lung.
Although the jury is still out on this groundbreaking therapeutic treatment, that does not take away from the fantastic potential for stem cells in treating lung conditions.
Keeping Your Lungs Healthy
For those suffering from cystic fibrosis, keeping the lungs healthy is incredibly important to prevent infections and other respiratory problems. There are a number of different medications that your doctors may prescribe to fight infections and inflammation. However, there are a number of things you can do on your own to complement your medical treatments and strengthen your lungs even more.
Practice Good Breathing Techniques - Breathing is something that comes naturally to everyone. However, that doesn't mean that everyone breathes in the best way. There are certain techniques that cystic fibrosis patients can use to help lessen the strain on their lungs and open their airways. Most people tend to breathe very shallowly, which leads to shorter and weaker breaths. Learning to use your full diaphragm when breathing will help increase your lung capacity and introduce oxygen into the bloodstream. Practice breathing by taking a deep breath while counting to five. Hold the breath in for another count of five, and finally exhale for five seconds. This will lead to better breath control and stronger healthier lungs. Another technique is to push your stomach and abdomen out when breathing in, as that will let you open up your lungs and fill them with more oxygen.
Improve Your Posture - When you slump over, you are pushing your lungs into your other organs, constricting their movement and limiting their ability to function. Sitting and standing up straight will allow your lungs to exhale and inhale fully, and strengthen them as a result. To improve your standing posture, try taking some time to stand with your back against the wall. You should be standing as tall as you can and really focus on how it feels when your back and torso are straight. When practicing sitting posture, you should focus on aligning your back with the back of the chair you are sitting in. The best way to improve your posture is to be mindful of it during the day, and to take some time to practicing good posture as frequently as possible.
Stay Hydrated - Drinking lots of water has a lot of health benefits, especially for cystic fibrosis patients. Keeping hydrated will help the lungs and other organs function much more effectively. Drinking water also helps keep the mucus lining the lungs thin, and can prevent serious lung infections caused by built up mucus.
Laugh - You've probably heard the expression saying laughter is the best medicine. And as it turns out, there’s some truth behind that! Laughing gives your diaphragm and abdomen a solid workout and strengthens your respiratory system. Whether it's watching a funny TV show, checking out your local comedy club, or even having fun with friends or family, having a good laugh will do great things for your lungs. We know how draining and stressful dealing with cystic fibrosis can be, so having a little fun is very important.
Exercise - Cardio exercises are great for strengthening your lungs. Cystic fibrosis patients sometimes have reservations about certain exercises, thinking their lungs will not be able to handle that much exertion. You don't have to be running ten miles a day, or do extremely exhausting workout routines. Just briskly walking or jogging ten to twenty minutes a day will help keep your lungs in tip top shape.
Stem cell research holds a very promising future for cystic fibrosis patients. This breakthrough could do wonders for therapists and medical professionals trying to treat lung infections and conditions. While the research is still in the introductory stages, this type of research will be incredibly important in the years to come. In the meantime, cystic fibrosis patients can take a few simple steps to improve their own lung function and reduce possible lung infections. Following those 5 simple steps above will strengthen your lungs and improve your quality of life as well.