Stem cells in lung repair, regeneration, and diseases: Current applications and future promise
Tissue engineering and cellular therapies have a remarkable potential to significantly impact medicine/biomedicine. Lung diseases are major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. The progress in regenerative medicine and stem cell research in the lung are currently a fast‐growing research topic that can provide solutions to these major health problems. Under normal conditions, the rate of cellular proliferation is relatively low in the lung in vivo, compared to other major organ systems. Lung injury leads to the activation of stem/progenitor cell populations that re‐enter the cell cycle. Yet, little is known about stem cells in the lung, despite common thoughts that these cells could play a critical role in the repair of lung injuries. Nor do we fully understand the cellular and architectural complexity of the respiratory tract, and the diverse stem/progenitor cells that are involved in the lung repair and regeneration. In this talk, we will present and discuss the conceptual framework of lung stem/progenitor cell biology. We will also describe our research studies and related research by others on some lung diseases, in which stem cell manipulations may be physiologically significant. Furthermore, we highlight the challenges of lung stem cell‐based therapy.