Breathing life into stem cell therapies for lung disease

Taking a deep breath does not come naturally to the 550 million people worldwide suffering from chronic respiratory diseases (CRDs). CRDs are a major cause of death and severely reduce people’s quality of life. Hence, identifying targets that have the potential to achieve relief in these patients is of great importance. In our lab, we aim to understand how functional lung tissue is build from embryonic stem cells.

Body area Lung


Currently, there is no cure for CRDs. Existing therapeutics are ineffective and fail in many cases, highlighting the urgent need for novel treatment options. Understanding how stem cells turn into mature lung cells will provide insights into bioengineering lung tissue for stem cell therapy, as well as identify factors that can boost the regenerative potential of the adult tissue.

reNEW research

In lung development, a great majority of research focuses on genetic programs, while the role of biomechanics remains largely unexplored. In our lab, we study the contribution of forces exerted by the cellular microenvironment by combining insights from our two model systems: the developing frog epidermis and lung organoids. My research is focused on how the extracellular matrix influences stem cell fate in vivo in lung-like tissue.

Image description

The image shows a cross section of the frog embryo with an extracellular matrix protein (magenta) located to the epidermis. This tissue greatly resembles the human airways.


Larissa Thurner, PhD Fellow,
Sedzinski Lab, reNEW Copenhagen