Joan & Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University
Developing Small Airway Models to Better Comprehend COPD
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is characterized by progressive irreversible narrowing of small airways due to smoking or other environmental stressors. No effective therapies are currently available, largely due to limited knowledge about COPD's mechanisms and the absence of adequate study models. We will develop novel, "personalized" models of small airway pathology in COPD, in which different cell types normally present in the small airways and altered by the disease will be isolated and integrated into an experimental system. This system will reconstruct interactions between the cells which may underlie disease development. These studies will lead to identification of novel disease mechanisms that can be targeted in the future to more effectively treat COPD
Update: We established innovative methodologies to isolate two types of essential cells that line the airways, called epithelial stems cells and their stromal niche cells, from the tiny branches of the airways called the distal airways, where COPD first arises. We were able to incorporate these cells into personalized models of distal airway disease. We performed studies that led to evaluation of distal airway cell biology at single cell level using a method called single-cell RNA-sequencing. Further, we established a methodology to isolate epithelial and stromal cells from distal airways using a type of microscope called laser capture microdissection, which uses a laser to isolate specific cells.