UC San Diego Research Team Awarded Funds to Investigate Stem Cell-based Therapy for Pulmonary Fibrosis

UC San Diego Research Team Awarded Funds to Investigate Stem Cell-based Therapy for Pulmonary Fibrosis

A team of researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine was recently granted $865,282 from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) to investigate a stem cell therapy for pulmonary fibrosis.

CIRM awarded two grants worth a total of more than $2.2 million to support researchers at UC San Diego pursuing the use of stem cell-based therapies to treat pulmonary fibrosis and a rare genetic heart disorder called Danon disease, according to a UC San Diego Health press release.

James Hagood, MD, pediatric pulmonologist and chief of pediatric respiratory medicine at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego, is leading the project on stem cell therapy for pulmonary fibrosis.

Current therapies for pulmonary fibrosis can help manage the disease’s symptoms, such as shortness of breath, dry cough, and fatigue, but cannot repair the lung scarring that marks the disease.

Hagood’s team wants to explore the use of components, called extracellular vesicles, released by mesenchymal stem cells as a therapy to slow or reverse fibrosis. Their goal is to better understand how these vesicles work, and if they can be modified to increase their anti-scarring activity to treat pulmonary fibrosis.

Join the PF forums: an online community for patients and caregivers living with Pulmonary Fibrosis.

Mesenchymal stem cells are able to self-renew and grow into a variety of cell types, from bone and cartilage to muscle and fat. Due to this, these cells have gained attention in the field of regenerative medicine, as well as for their ability to release soluble factors and extracellular vesicles — membrane-surrounded structures that can exchange information, such as proteins and genetic material, between cells.

Several studies have suggested that extracellular vesicles released by mesenchymal stem cells (MSC-EV) mediate the therapeutic potential of mesenchymal stem cell-based therapies.

These vesicles have shown an ability to reduce inflammation, fibrosis, and cell death, aiding in tissue regeneration in several models of kidney, liver, cardiovascular, and neurological diseases.

In addition,  MSC-EVs are advantageous because they are easier to manage and safer than therapies requiring the direct administration of cells.

Due to their potential, some MSC-EVs are already entering clinical trials for a number of diseases.

This initiative is another step in CIRM’s mission to accelerate stem cell research and treatments. The institute has awarded more than $215 million to UC San Diego since 2004. An integral part of this effort was the establishment of the CIRM Alpha Stem Cell Clinic at UC San Diego Health dedicated to early phase, first-in-human stem cell trials.


  1. Sandie says:

    Oh Thank You for all the help, research & development of any & all life saving advancements. We only hope & pray that it will be very soon offered to us who are afflicted w/ this horrible disease!

  2. I agree with you Sadie,I hope someday soon they can help those of us that’s suffering from this horrible disease. I lived in San Diego for 12 years and loved it out there. My husband is from New Jersey and wanted to retire at home. I’m willing to go back to San Diego for treatment because they have great doctors out there. If my husband doesn’t care to come with me then he can just stay in NJ with the hot humid weather in the summer and cold in the winter. Thanks for reading my vending, because I’m mad that I have this disease and will go to the end of the earth to get treatment and get my life back.

  3. Alfred Arnold says:

    I was diagnosed in December 2017 at age 69. Right now I am not exhibiting symptoms that are interfering with my lifestyle. I do get fatigued more quickly than I used to but some of that may be due to my age. I am saddened by the fact that this disease afflicts so many people in their late 20’s and early 30’s.

    On my last visit to the Pulmonolgist I asked if any new treatments were on the horizon. He told me no and that anything new would take at least 5 years to become available to patients.
    I am encouraged about stem cell therapy and would appreciate it if you would log any updates to this forum.

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