How a rubber chicken helped create a novel model of a rare lung disease

December 12, 2017

In 2009, Dr. William Stanford received a “laughter basket” including a rubber chicken from a young woman with a rare lung disease. Although he had never heard of her disease, called lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM), he was intrigued enough to meet with her. LAM is a devastating genetic disease characterized by abnormal growths in the lungs. It is somewhat like cancer, but far less studied. Dr. Stanford eventually agreed to study LAM and today, the results are providing hope around the world. His team’s latest paper, published in Cancer Research, describes a unique model to study the disease. Since patient-derived LAM cells don’t grow well in the lab, they genetically reprogrammed patient cells to become induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). They found that these cells can give rise to an unlimited supply of LAM cells that will be invaluable in understanding the disease and screening possible new drugs. The woman who inspired this research was profiled by CBC earlier this year, along with Dr. Stanford.

Authors: Julian LM, Delaney SP, Wang Y, Goldberg AA, Doré C, Yockell-Lelièvre J, Tam RY, Giannikou K, McMurray F, Shoichet MS, Harper ME, Henske EP, Kwiatkowski DJ, Darling TN, Moss J, Kristof AS, Stanford WL.

Funding: This research was possible because of generous donations to The Ottawa Hospital for Regenerative Medicine research. The researchers also received support from Green Eggs and LAM, the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine, the United States Department of Defense, the National Institutes of Health, the LAM Foundation, LAM Canada, the Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the University of Ottawa, the Ontario Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science and the Canada Research Chairs Program.

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