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06 - 07 - 2018

A treatment for pulmonary emphysema?

A study in mice indicates that a drug used for certain cancers could treat emphysema.



Emphysema is a lung disease that destroys alveoli and leads to respiratory failure. Tobacco is the first cause and there is no cure.





Plerixafor is a drug used to treat certain cancers of the blood cells. It causes the mobilization of bone marrow progenitor stem cells (HPC) and an increase in the number of pluripotent cells in the bloodstream.

Studies in the patient have shown that a decrease in blood HPC is associated with worsening of emphysema. Doctors then speculated that lowering HPC can decrease lung repair capacity.

Researchers studied a mouse model of pulmonary emphysema linked to exposure to cigarette smoke for 24 weeks. Some of the animals received plerixafor, the other did not.


These observations were wade:

             - a drop in HPC occured in all animals at the beginning of the study

             - a rise in the number of HPC happened after two weeks in treated animals

             - no sign of pulmonary inflammation was visible in treated animals as opposed to untreated

            - There was an improvement of the clinical signs related to emphysema in the treated animals.


This study confirms in a mouse model the protective effect of plerixafor on pulmonary emphysema and suggests a new mechanism of action. Researchers want this drug to be evaluated in patients.