2 Your Health – Vaccines and Stem Cells: Weapons against Lung Disease

Editor’s Note: “2 Your Health” is a new column in the SunBird News dedicated to health issues. Each month different doctors and or medical associations, from varying specialties, will be writing on issues of importance. Articles are based on experiences and independent research conducted by the doctors or medical associations. We encourage anyone considering changing medications and or altering medical therapy, as a result of information contained in these articles, to consult your doctor first. Robson Publishing, a division of Robson Communities, Inc. is not liable for information contained in these articles.

David Ebner, Staff Writer

Every fall, the billboards and television commercials urging you to get a flu shot start appearing. Many people have reservations about the flu vaccine. However, the statistics strongly support the flu vaccination over trying to tough it out, especially for the elderly. The CDC estimates that in people over 50, there is a 77 percent reduction in hospitalization for flu symptoms when vaccinated.

Why not you give yourself the best chance to be healthy? The benefits are even more compelling for those with a lung disease. The coughing, shortness of breath and fatigue that come along with the flu are everyday symptoms of lung disease and contracting the flu can turn these already harsh symptoms into something fatal. That’s why the CDC and most pulmonologists recommend that people with these conditions get the flu shot yearly.

Now, patients are asking about other options to protect and improve their lung function. If a shot can vaccinate them from the flu, what can be done about lung disease? New options are emerging and some have discovered stem cells as the answer. Just like the flu vaccine, stem cell therapy offers the possibility of improving lives through treatment of debilitating conditions.

Stem cells have become a buzzword in the news. However, few people are talking about the adult stem cells that are present in our own bodies. These cells live in blood, bone marrow and fat tissue. They naturally respond to injury or illness; yet, since stem cells don’t move quickly, our bodies don’t instantly heal. Stem cell therapy can expedite this natural healing process.

A clinic called the Lung Institute (lunginstitute.com) treats lung diseases with stem cells from the patient’s own body. They extract cells through a minimally invasive procedure, clean them and reintroduce them to the lungs after giving the patient natural growth factors that promote cell replication. This quickens healing by directing the cells toward the diseased area. Although this doesn’t cure the disease, it acts like the annual flu vaccine by slowing further degeneration and bringing a normal life back within reach.

We are in the midst of a fight to eradicate the flu. In the past, when the medical field banded together, they were able to develop a vaccine. With the medical advancements today, the question of whether this can be done for lung disease is forthcoming and by the looks of it, stem cells could play a starring role.