Stem cell therapy drug may protect against smoke-related COPD symptoms
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Rockville, Md. (July 5, 2018)–A drug used in stem cell therapy to treat certain cancers may also protect against cigarette smoke-induced lung injury. The study, published ahead of print in the American Journal of Physiology–Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology, was chosen as an APSselect article for July.

Plerixafor is a medication that stimulates the immune system to release more of a type of stem cell (hematopoietic progenitor cells, or HPCs) from the bone marrow into the bloodstream. The drug is used to treat some types of cancer that originate in the blood cells, including multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Stem cells have the potential to develop into many different kinds of cells in the body and are involved in tissue repair. Previous research has shown that lower numbers of HPCs in the bloodstream correspond to increased severity of emphysema, a form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD is a progressive lung disease that makes breathing difficult.

Studies suggest the reduced number of circulating HPCs prevents the lungs from being able to repair smoke-related damage. Based on this theory, researchers explored the effect of plerixafor on stem cell circulation–and subsequent lung function–in mice. One group of animals was exposed

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