NHLBI SBIR/STTR Contract Topic
063 Reagents for Studying Human Lung
Cell Biology and Cellular Function
(Fast-Track proposals will be accepted.) Number
of anticipated awards: 4-6
Approximately half of the 44 cells that comprise
the human respiratory tract still remain partially
identified and their function(s) is incompletely
understood (Franks et. al. Proc Am Thorac Soc 2008;
5: 763-6)). Suitable technologies are available to
identify, sort, purify, culture, and determine cell
surface markers or other unique identifying features
that permit individual characterization of cell
types. It seems feasible to unravel the origins and
functional capabilities of lung cells involved in
developmental stages of lung growth and in disease.
But it will be necessary to generate new reagents
that will identify these still incompletely
characterized cells in the human lung, permit
establishment of cell lines, and facilitate ready
isolation from lung tissue.
Much is known already about many important cells
in the human respiratory tract, but little is known
about the supportive function of structural cells,
the para-endocrine effect(s) of lung cells, and the
location and functions of stem and progenitor cells
that remain quiescent until stimulated to help
repair tissue after injury or disease. Cellular
functions that suppress or create apoptosis to
reestablish normalcy need insight. Several examples
are offered representing the three main compartments
of the lung:
- Among airway cells comprising the large and
small airways of the human bronchial tree, the
ciliated, columnar, secretory, and basal cells
have been well studied, but more knowledge about
epithelial stem and progenitor cells along the
airways, mucus and ciliated cell interactions,
functions of brush cells, and the stimuli from
neuro-endocrine cells to affect integrity of the
epithelium, all are needed.
- In the alveolus, information is considerable
about Type I cells, the multiple tasks of Type
II cells, and surfactant production and
properties, but Type II cell stimulated
epithelial to mesenchymal transition is evolving
but is not understood as a process leading to
lung fibrosis, and the activity of
interstitially located fibroblasts to secrete
extracellular matrix needs more scrutiny.
- The vascular bed of the pulmonary
circulation needs study of the endothelial cells
populating different locations and the capillary
network, and interactions of endothelium with
smooth muscle cells and with adventitial
fibroblasts need examination.
Thus, special reagents are needed for studying
lung cell biology and cells involved in organ
development, growth, and disease. Examples of needed
- Antibodies that will recognize specific cell
types and permit separation and recovery of
cells from micro- dissected lung tissue.
- Reagents to identify proteomic products
produced by cells.
- Antibodies that recognize cell surface
markers that can help identify and track
different cell lineages present in airway and
- Specific antibodies to recognize cell
surface markers that help to separate out
individual cell types from among heterogeneous
lung tissue cells.
- Reagents that track cellular changes in
differentiation as development occurs, track
cells that enter latency, and detect signals of
re-stimulation or redeployment for repair tasks.
- Reagents that characterize and identify
“stem” and progenitor lung cells.
Phase I proposals should focus on development of
reagents that identify unique cell surface markers
or other special structures that would permit
extraction of cells, considered to be incompletely
characterized or identified, from human lung tissue
biopsy specimens, or other lung bio-specimens such
as transbronchial biopsy and bronchoalveolar lavage.
This should lead to cell separation and
establishment of in vitro cell cultures.
Phase II proposals should focus on scale up
production of unique reagents for cell separation
that can be placed in a repository for use by other
investigators by application to investigate lung
disease, and to study cell proteomics and other
For more information, see the
FY2012 Contract Solicitation or
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Last Updated December 2011