11 January 2018

The “Stichting AstmaBestrijding” has awarded a grant of € 21,875 to Danique Hof, PhD candidate, theme Reconstructive and regenerative medicine, for the project “Quantification of extracellular matrix proteins in normal vs. COPD tissue by mass spectrometry for tissue engineering of the lung”.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is characterized by the irreversible loss of alveolar extracellular matrix (ECM) and architecture (emphysema) and excessive mucus secretion. An urgent need exists for strategies aimed at regeneration of the lost alveolar tissue, as no actual treatment of emphysema exists. We aim to gain insight in the changes within the ECM of COPD lung using state-of-the-art ECM mass spectrometry (MS), providing a solid basis for a regenerative approach aimed at the alveolar restoration in COPD patients.

The ECM is a crucial factor for the functioning of lung mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). These cells represents an adult stem cell population used in regenerative medicine and have been shown to have a beneficial effect on the lung in experimental COPD animal models. However, the loss of normal alveolar architecture and ECM may limit the adherence, retention and sustained growth of MSCs in COPD patients.

Bio-scaffolds can be used to mimic the native lung micro-environment to support the MSCs in the regeneration of the lost alveolar structures in COPD patients. For a rationalised design of a bio-scaffold, we need to analyze the ECM composition of the alveolar structures in COPD compared to controls. Hereto, we will collaborate with the group of Dr. Kirk Hansen at the University of Colorado (USA), who has a unique expertise in handling lung samples for quantitative MS analysis.

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