A team of scientists from the University of Pennsylvania has discovered a new type of lung cell, with very interesting functions. In his study, published in Nature, explain that these cells have both regenerative and curative for him respiratory system. In addition, they point out that their in-depth knowledge could perhaps help find more effective treatments against chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
According StatisticalSince 2015, just over a million cases of COPD annual. In addition, according to whoevery year about 3 million people in the world for his sake. It is, therefore, a disease to which attention should be paid.
This new type of cell in the lungs, dubbed RAS cells, may hold some clues, as they promote the regeneration and healing of alveolar tissue, often damaged in COPD patients. If the form is found protect the alveoli, the lives of many of these patients could be saved. These cells may have answers, but first it is important to understand them in greater depth.
What mice don’t tell us about COPD
To study COPD, as well as other lung diseases, it is important to thoroughly study the components of the respiratory system.
In laboratories this is usually done with mice. However, the respiratory system of these rodents is quite different from humansso the investigation was stalled in some areas.
In an attempt to put an innovative spin on their experiments, the authors of the recently published study decided to work with lung tissue samples from healthy human donors. And that is how they found this type of cell, which, moreover, has turned out to be in other laboratory animals, such as ferrets. In fact, the researchers suspect they could be in most mammals the size of ferrets or larger.
What is this new type of cell like?
The analysis of this new type of cell reveals that they have two main functions. On the one hand, they secrete a series of molecules that help line and protect the bronchioles, which are the small twigs of a millimeter or less into which the tree that forms the bronchi is divided, after the trachea. On the other hand, they act as progenitors of the alveolar cells type 2. This means that they can regenerate that specific type of cells when they are damaged. Therefore, they have functions on closely linked structures, since the alveoli are small air-filled bags that are located precisely at the end of the bronchioles.
Of note, within the alveoli, type 2 alveolar cells secrete a chemical that is used in part to repair other damaged alveoli. In other words, they regenerate cells that repair other cells. The perfect combo.
Therefore, as explained in ScienceAlert one of the authors, edward morsey, this new type of cell is what is known as a facultative progenitor. This is because “they act as stem cells and also have important functions in the maintaining respiratory health”.
As for COPD, it is known that one of the complications of the disease is due precisely to the fact that emphysema can occur, in which the alveoli are destroyed irreversibly. This could be solved by RAS cells. However, these researchers have also observed a great degeneration of this new type of cell in COPD patients. And there seems to be the target. Perhaps, if they found a way to save these cells, they would be giving these patients many more opportunities to live. Save the saviors. That seems to be the key. Now it only remains to find a way to do it and that, of course, is not a minor issue.