Many diseases affect the ability to breathe in humans. Some are caused by smoking, while other lung problems can be caused by chemicals or other substances that are inhaled. The big problem for people with lung diseases and conditions is not being able to breathe impacts just about every aspect of their lives. Researchers from Yale have announced that they have created a cellular blueprint of the human lung.
The researchers say that the new blueprint will make it easier to understand design principals behind lung function and disease. The new development may also make it possible to bioengineer new lungs in the future. The data was obtained via single-cell technology, offering an ultra-high-resolution view of up to millions of individual cells at once.
Using that high-resolution look, the team was able to find key cell interactions across four different species, including the mouse, rat, pig, and human. The data revealed several universal cell communication networks driving functions like cell regulation, disease monitoring, and cell signaling. The data provides new insight into the mechanisms behind lung development and disease.
One of the scientists said that the team can take an entire organ, or tissue, and measure all the cell types from a single snapshot. The team noted that five years ago, the resolution needed to look at individual cells wasn’t available. The team notes that there are 40 different types of cells in the lung.
Scientists on the project note that being able to build regenerative lung tissue and regrow the lungs for the body’s tissue is the Holy Grail. Currently, the only treatment for end-stage lung disease is a lung transplant, but that comes with immunosuppressive drugs, and often, the transplants are still rejected.