Yidan Zhao, MD, PhD
Research Assistant Professor
I have a long-term interest in the biology of pulmonary disease. Our team has demonstrated the feasibility of a bone marrow-derived stem cell-based approach for therapeutic gene transfer in the
pulmonary circulation. Our experiments have demonstrated that a high percentage of these syngeneic cells injected into the pulmonary circulation are retained by the lung. We have shown that the introduced cells
continue to express the transduced gene. Recently, we have initiated a series of preclinical studies to determine the biological efficacy of this approach in a monocrotaline and hypoxic-induced pulmonary hypertensive
rat model. Our results show that select transduced therapeutic genes result in substantial protection against pulmonary disease and the associated pathological remodelling of the pulmonary arterial vessels.
Adult stem cells have been studied extensively for treatment of a variety of diseases. Recent studies in animal models have demonstrated the potential for bioengineering strategies that target adult
and embryonic stem cells. In the recent studies described above, where we used bone marrow-derived endothelial progenitor cells with an introduced therapeutic gene we were able to show both prevention of and rescue from
primary pulmonary hypertension. This work has been received with considerable interest as it represents a possible new treatment strategy for lung diseases. Stem cell-based gene therapy offers the prospect of treating
the underlying cause of many serious respiratory diseases.
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