Chronic lung disease treatment hits speed bump

Hudson Institute

A promising avenue of research into chronic lung disease treatment has hit a speed bump, with new research showing that 3D manufacturing mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) may not be the panacea that was hoped.

Associate Professor Rebecca Lim provides a promising avenue of research into chronic lung disease treatment.
Associate Professor Rebecca Lim

MSCs or stromal cells have proven a beneficial treatment in preventing scarring from chronic lung diseases, and previous studies suggested that using 3D culturing to manufacture MSCs could provide beneficial on a large scale.

However, the latest studies by Associate Professor Rebecca Lim at Hudson Institute of Medical Research, published in Frontiers in Cellular Developmental Biology showed that 3D culturing of these cells results in less beneficial nanoparticles as a treatment for chronic lung disease.

Influencing chronic lung disease

“All cell types release natural nanoparticles which have biological activity,” A Prof Lim said.

“In this study, we measured the impact of 3D cultivation of MSCs on their release of these nanoparticles as well as their ability to influence scarring in the lung.”

3D culture has been touted as a significant avenue for improving manufacturing efficiencies, but this study shows that this environment does not suit all cell types and/or all applications.

A/Prof Lim says 2D manufacturing appears to offer a good potential source of these materials, but not on the scale that had been hoped using 3D culturing.

“This study uncovers critical information that will help improve scalable manufacturing of these nanoparticles and may be applied to other cell types beyond MSCs,” A Prof Lim said.

“The upshot of this study is that manufacturing is an important aspect of clinical applications, and if we cannot manufacture at scale, then there is no translation to the marketplace and the broader public beyond small clinical trials.”

Scalable manufacturing to help lung disease patients

This form of treatment is of particular interest in relation to the lung disease idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), which has no known cause and can be fatal.

IPF tends to affect people in their 50s-60s, causing lung scarring. It affects about five million people globally, with the ageing population at highest risk.

The average survival rate is just two to three years and, apart from a lung transplant, there are no effective treatments.

Collaborators | The Baker Institute, University of Queensland, Monash University (Department of Engineering)

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