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Stem Cells and Cell Therapies for Lung Diseases

The use of stem cells for treating lung diseases has great appeal. As we learn more about the therapeutic potential of stem cells and other cell therapies in clinical trials of non-lung diseases, we hope to move towards further consideration of these approaches in lung diseases.

However, as yet, there is very little known about the short and long term effects of administering any type of stem cell therapy to patients with lung diseases. Until we know more, we must be strongly concerned that the treatment could cause adverse effects and could worsen the patient's condition rather than improve it. As such, safety must be the top priority.

At present, there are only a small number of approved clinical trials in the United States and Canada investigating cell therapy approaches for lung diseases. These can be found on the website of the National Institutes of Health at www.clinicaltrials.gov. We are hopeful that there will be more in the future.

However, you may come across information on the internet or other sources about stem cells being administered to patients with lung diseases, such as emphysema, pulmonary hypertension or pulmonary fibrosis. These trials may be listed as occurring either in the US or in other countries. We strongly caution all patients that the claims of benefit being made by many of these programs have not been substantiated nor have they been reviewed by experts in the field or any regulatory agency. Because of the potential for harm, the lack of any proven benefit, and the high fees that many of these programs charge, we strongly caution you not to participate in these or any other comparable unauthorized or unapproved stem cell administrations, unless independent credible, reliable, and objective sources of information are available to substantiate the information and claims being made.

One such reliable source of information and scrutiny, endorsed by the American Thoracic Society, is the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR), which has developed an excellent web-based resource that includes the ISSCR Patient Handbook. We strongly recommend reading this website, which also provides mechanisms for monitoring or substantiating the claims being made by various organizations that claim to offer 'stem cell therapies'.

Please visit The International Society for Stem Cell Research website.