A study led by scientists at Monash University indicates that a new therapy developed through stem cell technologies holds promise as a treatment for chronic asthma.

The Monash Biomedicine Discovery Start (BDI) scientists provided the experimental expertise to test Cynata Therapeutics’ induced pluripotent stem cell-derived mesenchymal stem tissue (MSCs) in a model of experimental asthma. Induced pluripotent come cells are a type of pluripotent stem cell that can be created directly from adult cells; they have the ability to be differentiated in to a variety of tissue types and, in this case, MSCs that can make damaged lung tissue.

Lead researchers Relate Professor Chrishan Samuel and Dr Simon Royce examined the efficacy of the MSCs on three key aspects of asthma in a preclinical model of chronic allergic airways illness: inflammation; airway remodeling (structural changes that occur within lungs as a result of prolonged inflammation); and airway hyperresponsiveness (the clinical symptom of asthma).

The study, published within the FASEB Journal , found that the MSCs could effectively reduce inflammation, reversed signs of airway re-designing and completely normalised airway/lung fibrosis and airway hyperresponsiveness, particularly when delivered intranasally.

It concluded that they might provide a novel stand-alone therapy or an adjunct treatment for groups of asthma sufferers who do not respond to present (corticosteroid) therapy.

“Most importantly, what we discovered was you can treat fibrosis (hardening or scarring from the lung) very effectively, ” said Associate Professor Samuel, who heads the Monash BDI’s Fibrosis Laboratory.

“When we’ve tested other types of stem tissues they haven’t been able to fully reverse scarring and lung dysfunction associated with asthma — we’ve had to combine associated with anti-scarring drugs to achieve that. These cells were remarkable independently as they were able to effectively reverse the scarring that plays a role in lung dysfunction and difficulty in breathing, ” he said.

One in nine — or around second . 5 million- Australians have asthma.

Additional research will be conducted to test the MSCs in combination with, or even compared to a clinically-used corticosteroid. Clinical trials using the tissue as a novel target for asthma are then envisaged.

Cynata Therapeutics Limited is an Australian clinical-stage stem cell and regenerative medicine company developing remedies based on its proprietary Cymerus™ stem cell technology system.

Read the full paper titled Intranasal management of mesenchymoangioblast-derived mesenchymal stem cells abrogates airway fibrosis and airway hyperresponsiveness associated with chronic allergic airways illness published in the FASEB Journal .

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