Reuters - Video

EDITION: U.S. | U.K. | IN

Moments of Innovation

Researchers breathe life into hopes for lab-grown lungs

Sunday, Dec 22, 2013 - 03:14

Dec. 22 - Scientists in New York have successfully turned human stem cells into functional lung and airway cells for the first time. It's a breakthrough the researchers at Columbia University believe could eventually lead to the creation of lab-made lungs, using a patient's own cells. Sharon Reich reports.

▲ Hide Transcript

View Transcript

Dr. Hans Snoeck and his team at Columbia University Medical Center are transforming human stem cells into functional lung cells. It's a development that could eventually revolutionize the treatment of lung disease and make bio-engineering a reality... Snoeck says the cells could one day form the building blocks of laboratory-made lungs that won't be rejected after transplantation. He says they could also be used to test new therapeutic drugs, an impossibility today, because the cells where lung disease forms are deep inside the organ and inaccessible for study. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DR. HANS SNOECK, PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE AND MICROBIOLOGY AND IMMUNOLOGY AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER SAYING: "It's been very hard to start studying this disease because once patients have the disease the whole lung is almost destroyed. If we can make the cells that we believe or that the field believes is at the basis of this disease and study this in a dish it would open up enormous possibilities to begin to understand this disease." At the center of their experiments are so-called type 2 epithereal cells, which are critical for lung function. They produce a substance called refractant that keeps the lungs open and functional…but they're also the cells where the disease first takes hold. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DR. HANS SNOECK, PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE AND MICROBIOLOGY AND IMMUNOLOGY AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER SAYING: "Many lung diseases center around this specific cell. and what we can do now is take skin cells from a patient, reprogram those two stem cells, make these type 2 cells from these patients and study exactly what is wrong with these cells. If we can find what is wrong with these cells we can also start screening for drugs and develop drugs to treat these diseases. And an example of such a disease is something called idiopathic lung fibrosis, a disease that kills between 20-30 thousand people in the US and for which there is no treatment whatsoever. So one of the things we'd like to do is start modeling the disease using the approach we've developed." And even more exciting, says Snoeck is the possibilities their research presents for the development of rejection-proof lungs, that could be made in the lab. (SOUNDBITE) DR. HANS SNOECK, PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE AND MICROBIOLOGY AND IMMUNOLOGY AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER SAYING: "One thing we dream of is that we could use the cells we generated from these patient and put them on a donor lung from which we removed from all the donor cells. and in this way we'll have a donor lung the whole scaffold, the structure, is from a donor but all the cells will be from the patient." But to produce enough cells to repopulate an entire lung, might be an impossible challenge. Still, Snoeck and his bio-engineering colleague Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic believe the ultimate goal might be achievable by enlisting the help of the body's own cell building system. (SOUNDBITE) (English) GORDANA VUNJAK-NOVAKOVIC, PROFESSOR OF BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER SAYING: "One approach that we took is to try to think about building healthy nuclei within the diseased lungs and then count on the body to do part of the process of regeneration starting from these healthy nuclei. We saw in the lab that this principle works in many different tissues and we would like to apply it to the lung tissue." The researchers say there's still a long way to go before a lung can be successfully reseeded, but they are confident, the era of bioengineered organs, from livers to lungs, is not that far off.

Researchers breathe life into hopes for lab-grown lungs

Sunday, Dec 22, 2013 - 03:14

Top News »

Money »

S&P 500 closes at new high S&P 500 closes at new high

Thu, Aug 21, 2014 - (1:24)

S&P 500 just shy of record S&P 500 just shy of record

Wed, Aug 20, 2014 - (2:23)

Apple hits $100 a share Apple hits $100 a share

Tue, Aug 19, 2014 - (2:06)

Nasdaq closes at 14-year high Nasdaq closes at 14-year high

Mon, Aug 18, 2014 - (2:23)

Putin puts Wall Street in buying mood Putin puts Wall Street in buying mood

Thu, Aug 14, 2014 - (2:10)

We've become a promotional culture-RetailMeNot's Bodge We've become a promotional...

Thu, Aug 14, 2014 - (4:39)

Dow back to positive territory for year Dow back to positive territory for year

Wed, Aug 13, 2014 - (2:18)

Markets cheer Russia's Ukraine exit Markets cheer Russia's Ukraine exit

Fri, Aug 08, 2014 - (1:50)

Russia, Iraq push Dow to three-month low Russia, Iraq push Dow to three-month low

Thu, Aug 07, 2014 - (2:27)

Wall Street gains but telecom disconnected Wall Street gains but telecom disconnected

Wed, Aug 06, 2014 - (2:28)

Stocks zapped by energy weakness Stocks zapped by energy weakness

Tue, Aug 05, 2014 - (2:46)

The Exchange »

The Exchange: Hot commodity The Exchange: Hot commodity

Wed, Jul 16, 2014 - (9:25)

The Exchange: Constitutional crusade The Exchange: Constitutional crusade

Wed, Jun 25, 2014 - (11:35)

The Exchange: The value of money The Exchange: The value of money

Mon, Jun 02, 2014 - (9:53)

The Exchange: China’s Second Continent The Exchange: China’s Second Continent

Tue, May 27, 2014 - (9:35)

The Exchange: A master of business arts The Exchange: A master of business arts

Thu, May 08, 2014 - (8:24)

The Exchange: America's bankrupt cities The Exchange: America's bankrupt cities

Mon, May 05, 2014 - (8:52)

The Exchange: Let the rocking commence The Exchange: Let the rocking commence

Tue, Apr 08, 2014 - (8:13)

The Exchange: The Moneyball fallacies The Exchange: The Moneyball fallacies

Mon, Mar 24, 2014 - (9:54)

Is doing good a good business? Is doing good a good business?

Mon, Mar 17, 2014 - (7:38)

Reuters Investigates »

Re-homing victim: "I could have been dead" Re-homing victim: "I could have been dead"

Wed, Feb 19, 2014 - (8:24)

Cops and loggers in the Amazon rainforest Cops and loggers in the Amazon rainforest

Fri, Jan 10, 2014 - (4:01)

"Passed around like a dog" "Passed around like a dog"

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 - (6:32)

Adopted, then abandoned online Adopted, then abandoned online

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 - (13:21)

How the DEA keeps its secrets secret How the DEA keeps its secrets secret

Mon, Aug 05, 2013 - (1:36)

How education lost its role as the great equalizer - Reuters Investigates How education lost its role as the great...

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 - (7:52)

Jihad Jane: From abused child to American jihadist - Reuters Investigates Jihad Jane: From abused child to American...

Sat, Dec 08, 2012 - (10:01)

Jihad Jane: The order to kill - Reuters Investigates Jihad Jane: The order to kill - Reuters...

Sun, Dec 09, 2012 - (10:39)

Moving Pictures »

"Old timers" sail the Chesapeake Bay "Old timers" sail the Chesapeake Bay

Mon, Aug 11, 2014 - (2:27)

Burned memories Burned memories

Fri, Aug 08, 2014 - (3:02)

Images of July Images of July

Thu, Jul 31, 2014 - (1:20)

World Cup: passion on the pitch World Cup: passion on the pitch

Fri, Jul 11, 2014 - (1:00)

A refugee in America gives back A refugee in America gives back

Wed, Jul 02, 2014 - (3:25)

A long search for refuge A long search for refuge

Fri, Jun 20, 2014 - (3:04)

World Cup: Around the globe in 50 goals World Cup: Around the globe in 50 goals

Fri, Jun 06, 2014 - (1:08)

VIVID – Sydney’s spectacle of light VIVID – Sydney’s spectacle of light

Fri, May 30, 2014 - (1:37)

The week that changed Boston The week that changed Boston

Mon, Apr 14, 2014 - (3:28)