Goal 3: Advance Translational Research

Regenerative Medicine 2.0 in Heart and Lung Research - Back to the Drawing Board

Stem cell therapies have been quite successful in hematologic disease but the outcomes of clinical studies using stem cells for cardiopulmonary disease have been rather modest.


Explanations for this discrepancy such as the fact that our blood has a high rate of physiologic, endogenous turnover and regeneration whereas these processes occur at far lower rates in the heart and lung. Furthermore, hematopoietic stem cells can be easily identified via cell-surface markers and and engraft. There is far less of a consensus on regenerative cells in the heart and lung and their regenerative potential despite more than 15 years of research.


A major challenge is to fundamentally rethink our current approaches to cardiopulmonary regeneration.

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Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Critical Challenge (CC)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC :

Some barriers to successfully implementing cardiopulmonary regeneration include the complex heterogeneous nature of the heart and lung.


Hematopoietic stem cells can give rise to all hematopoietic cells but the heart and lung appear to contain numerous pools of distinct regenerative stem and progenitor cells, many of which only regenerate a limited cell type in the respective organ. The approach of injecting one stem cell type that worked so well for hematopoietic stem cells is unlikely to work in the heart and lung.


We therefore need new approaches which combine multiple regenerative cell types and pathways in order to successfully repair and regenerate heart and lung tissues. These cell types will likely also require specific matrix cues since there are numerous, heterogeneous microenvironments in the heart and lung.


If we rethink our current approaches to regenerating the heart and lung and we use combined approaches in which multiple cell types and microevironments are concomitantly regenerated (ideally by large scale collaborations between laboratories), we are much more likely to achieve success.


This will represent a departure from the often practiced "Hey, let us inject our favorite cell" approach that worked so well in hematologic disease but these novel, combined approaches targeting multiple endogenous and/or exogenous regenerative cells could fundamentally change our ability to treat heart and lung disease.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : Jalees Rehman


7 net votes
11 up votes
4 down votes
Idea No. 858