Asthma is a long-term chronic inflammatory disease characterized by a permanent overreaction of the airways in the lungs, especially the bronchi, when getting in contact with irritants in the air. This overreaction is resulting in an intensified constriction of the airways when breathing in irritant substances. The constriction in combination with a disordered excretion of mucus in the bronchi leads to breathlessness and the distinctive coughing. Globally, asthma affects about 300 million people.
Genetic factors are a common reason for asthma. Other factors for developing asthma are environmental parameters such as pollution, tobacco smoke, strain, cold air, stress, and viral infections. People with an underdeveloped immune system and overly hygienic people are also endangered to develop asthma.
There are different types of asthma: Atopic asthma, non-atopic asthma, and a combination of both. In most cases a combination of atopic and non-atopic factors is present. Further, asthma is divided into 4 grades of severity with 1 being the lightest form of asthma and 4 the strongest expression of the symptoms.
Typical symptoms of asthma are asthma attacks, during which a sudden breathlessness occurs. Especially breathing out is difficult for the person concerned. This breathlessness is accompanied by wheezing breath sounds and uncontrollable dry coughs. Due to the sensation of getting little air the respiration of the afflicted ones is accelerating. Associated therewith are a tightness of the chest, an increased heartbeat, exhaustion, and fear. Based on the undersupply of oxygen a blue coloring of lips and other skin areas may arise.
Therapy of Asthma
At present, a therapy can mitigate and control the symptoms of asthma. There are only very few cases of asthma being cured fully among children. With the right combination of drugs, exercises, countermeasures to ease breathing, and a healthy lifestyle, asthmatics can lead a virtually symptom-free life.
The medicinal treatment is carried out with inhalers, which have a direct impact on the airways. For acute ailments PRN medication, which shows a quick result and symptom relief, is deployed. Long-term therapy drugs fight against the asthmatic illness in perpetuity. When using these pharmaceuticals, the guideline is “As much as needed and as little as possible!”
In addition to the use of inhalers there are several measures that can be taken to ease the symptoms and to improve one’s quality of life while living with asthma. Such measures are, for example, to consciously avoid substances that could lead to an allergic reaction, like cold, dry air, or animal hair. Practicing sports to improve the patient’s capacity of heart and lungs is also recommended.
Stem Cell Therapy of Asthma
Another possible therapy for asthma is a treatment with Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSC) or Stromal Vascular Fraction (SVF). Stem cells are said to be precursor cells of all completed body cells. In the meanwhile we know that mesenchymal stem cells primarily act by modulating the immune system and stimulating regeneration of tissue and blood vessels by means of cytokines. Since a faulty reaction of the autoimmune system is going on in people suffering from asthma, it seems obvious to use the immune-modulating potential of mesenchymal stem cells in the therapy.
Mesenchymal stem cells and SVF are extracted from a small amount of the patient’s own fat tissue, which is harvested by liposuction. The stem cells are injected systemically immediately after isolation. Due to the regenerative potential of stem cells the progress of the disease can possibly be alleviated and thereby the quality of life of people affected can be improved.