Stem cell "mini-lungs" created in Cambridge University lab

Posted: March 20, 2015 at 7:45 pm

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Cambridge stem cell scientists searching for new cystic fibrosis treatments have grown "mini-lungs" in a laboratory.

The millimetre-wide cell clusters were created using stem cells derived from the skin of patients with the devastating lung disease.

They are the latest in a line of 3D "organoids" produced to mimic the behaviour of specific body tissues, following "mini-brains" for studying Alzheimer's disease and "mini-livers" to model diseases of the liver.

Dr Nick Hannan, led the team from Cambridge University.

He said: "In a sense, what we've created are 'mini-lungs'.

"While they only represent the distal (outer) part of lung tissue, they are grown from human cells and so can be more reliable than using traditional animal models, such as mice.

"We can use them to learn more about key aspects of serious diseases - in our case, cystic fibrosis."

Cystic fibrosis occurs when the movement of water to the inside of the lungs is reduced, causing a build up of thick mucus that leads to a high risk of infection.

The scientists reprogrammed ordinary skin cells to create stem cells that could be transformed into lung tissue.

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Stem cell "mini-lungs" created in Cambridge University lab

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