The use of stem cells to treat disease has emerged as a novel and viable strategy. Activating existing stem cells to divide and evolve into mature and functional cell types is the basis for our project. We want to identify new therapeutic approaches to trigger lung’s intrinsic regeneration potential, in order to treat prematurity-associated chronic lung disease (CLD).
Thus far, we have optimized the duration and degree of hyperoxia exposure, in order to mimic CLD injury in model systems and we are improving techniques for lung tissue preservation to measure lung alveolarization and injury and to visualize developing lung cells. We are actively evaluating the effects of high hyperoxia exposure. In addition, we have shown that thin lung sections of precise thickness have preserved tissue architecture, which can be used to produce a cell culture model in which the micro-environments and interactions between different cell populations is maintained. Our technique allows for activation of cell proliferation and regenerated tissue grows properly. We have evaluated the best conditions to obtain viable tissue and we have achieved short term survival. We are actively testing the survival profiles of our endogenous stem cells before we start drug screening. Moving forward, we will develop a method to monitor stem cell proliferation in a high-throughput paradigm.