Stem Cell Therapy for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
What is COPD and What Causes It?
- Bronchiectasis (widened airway allowing excess mucus to build up)
- Some types of bronchitis (airway inflammation)
- Difficulty breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
Chronic BronchitisChronic bronchitis involves inflammation and narrowing of the airways, leading to increased mucus production and chronic cough. For a chronic bronchitis diagnosis, a chronic cough needs to last for at least three months in two consecutive years 2. Other findings indicative of chronic bronchitis include:
- Crackles heard in the lungs
- Cyanosis, or bluing of the skin and lips due to low oxygen delivery to the body
- Shortness of breath
- An increase in red blood cells in response to low oxygen
EmphysemaEmphysema involves damage to the alveoli in the lungs. Alveoli are small grape-like clusters of cells in the lungs that exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide. This damage causes the alveoli to lose their elasticity, which makes it difficult for air to be exhaled from the lungs. Findings indicative of emphysema include:
- Shortness of breath
- A barrel-shaped chest on x-ray, which could be due to chronically having excess air trapped in the lungs
- Whistling or squeaky sounds during breathing
- Centriacinar affects respiratory bronchioles (tiny air tubes) without affecting the alveoli responsible for gas exchange at the ends of the bronchioles. This type of emphysema has a strong association with smoking and occurs in the upper lobes of the lungs
- Panacinar affects both respiratory bronchioles and alveoli. This type of emphysema is mainly genetic. A genetic change causes an alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) enzyme deficiency that affects the lower lobes of the lungs.
- People over the age of 40
- People from low and middle-income countries with higher air pollutants
Stages of COPD
- Mild (Stage 1) is where FEV1 is equal to or greater than 80% of normal. Patients may not have any symptoms or may have a chronic cough and/or sputum production.
- Moderate (Stage 2) is where FEV1 is between 50% and 79% of normal. Patients may have shortness of breath during physical activity, and their cough and sputum production may be more frequent.
- Severe (Stage 3) is where FEV1 is between 30% and 49% of normal. Patients experience significant shortness of breath, especially during physical activity, and their cough and sputum production is frequent.
Stem Cell Therapy for COPD FAQ
The Scientific Rationale Behind Stem Cell Therapy for COPD
Currently, there is no known cure for COPD. The standard-of-care treatments may slow down disease progression and manage symptoms but do not reverse the damage done to the respiratory system. Most drugs for COPD also have unpleasant side effects that tend to lower the quality of life. Some patients may not respond well to the available treatments or may not be eligible for certain treatments due to other health conditions or contraindications.
This is where stem cell therapy can uniquely deliver benefits.
How Much Does Stem Cell Therapy Cost for COPD?
The cost depends on the specific treatment the patient would be undergoing and how many treatment sessions they’d need. Book a consultation with us today to get your personalized stem cell therapy treatment plan.
How Many Treatments Will I Need?
Typically, you will need 1-2 treatments, depending on the plan of care established between you and your doctor. All treatment appointments are in person, but the initial consultation and follow-up can be done by phone.
Some people do come back for additional treatments over the course of months or years. This largely depends on the stage of your disease, how well you respond to the treatment, and what your treatment goals are.
Your Patient Journey with Stem Cell Therapy for COPD
Step 1: Application and initial consultation
Our questionnaire and initial consultation help us determine whether you’re a good candidate for stem cell therapy, along with the best treatment plans for you. Our patient advocate will walk you through the process, pricing, and payment plans.
Step 2: Physical exam
You’ll come in for a physical exam in preparation for the treatment and also to assess your current symptoms and health status.
Step 3: Stem cell collection
Your procedure will begin where we harvest cells from your bone marrow or fat tissues. We will then isolate the stem cells from these tissues in the clinic before administering your first treatment
Step 4: Stem cell culture
If applicable, we will send your stem cells to the lab to expand them in numbers.
Step 5: Future treatments
Your future stem cell treatments will be done using your cultured stem cells.
Step 6: Follow-up appointments
Our team will keep in contact with you to monitor your treatment progress and support you through your recovery.
Advantages of Stem Cell Therapy vs Standard Treatments and Other Alternative Treatments for COPD
Current Standard-of-Care Treatments for COPD and Their Shortfalls
Bronchodilators (medications that relax and open the airways)
Inhaled medications designed to relax and open muscles in the airways, making it easier to breathe. Can be further subdivided into two categories:
Beta-agonists act on the beta-2 receptor in the lungs to relax smooth muscle. Beta-agonists can be ‘short-acting’ and used for acute exacerbations, or ‘long-acting’ for the prevention of airway constriction.
Short-acting beta-agonists include albuterol and levalbuterol. Whereas, long-acting beta-agonists include salmeterol and formoterol.
Common side effects of these medications include:
Anticholinergics (muscarinic antagonists) block muscarinic receptors in the lungs, which decreases the production of cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP). These drugs prevent constriction of lung muscles. Common anticholinergics include tiotropium and ipratropium.
Common side effects include:
- Dry mouth
- Blurry vision
- Fast heartbeat
- Hot and flushed skin
- Urinary retention
Corticosteroids reduce inflammation in airways and help prevent COPD exacerbations in some patients. Common inhaled corticosteroids include fluticasone, budesonide, ad beclomethasone.
Side effects of corticosteroid treatments may include:
- Oral thrush (a yeast infection)
- Weakened immune system
- Increased appetite, weight gain, and insulin resistance, which tends to worsen disease outcomes
- Loss of muscle mass and bone density
These medications contain a corticosteroid and bronchodilator in a single inhaler. Some examples include:
- Fluticasone/salmeterol (Advair)
- Budesonide/formoterol (Symbicort)
Despite the availability of these treatments, they are not effective in all patients, and some individuals may experience severe side effects. Although inhalers reduce the flare-ups in COPD, they do not fix the damage done to the respiratory system or slow the progression of the disease.
Some patients may not respond well to the available treatments, or may not be eligible for certain treatments due to other health conditions or contraindications.
- Breathing techniques such as pursed lip breathing to avoid feeling out of breath under stress
- Education on how lungs work and change during COPD
- Psychological counseling for those who feel depression or anxiety with their diagnosis
- Exercise training to strengthen the back, arms, and legs to build endurance and stamina
- Nutritional counseling to help in weight loss and building muscle
- Stage 1 is treated with a short-acting bronchodilator (SABA)
- Stage 2 is treated with a SABA + a long-acting bronchodilator (LABA) + pulmonary rehabilitation
- Stage 3 is treated with a SABA + LABA + pulmonary rehabilitation + inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) for acute exacerbations
- Stage 4 is treated with SABA + LABA + rehabilitation + ICS + oxygen therapy + a possible lung volume reduction surgery or lung transplantation
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