Many people have contracted COPD as a result of exposure, for example, to the toxins from 9/11. Many of the healthcare workers and the emergency personnel that worked there for the days and weeks following, who were inhaling some of these toxins, wound up with a World Trade Center lung syndrome, and as result, they wound up with some permanent scarring and damage to their lungs and a certain degree of COPD. More common forms of COPD occur as a result of smoking or the exposure to other sorts of industrial toxins and fumes. Back in the old days, when we still had lead in our gasoline, people that worked for the Triborough Bridge Association, and worked in the tunnels, for example, and were inhaling these sorts of fumes all day long, commonly developed various sorts of lung diseases. People that work in mines, coal miners or other sorts of miners, develop forms of COPD as a result of inhaling these sorts of dusts and toxins on a daily basis.
COPD can also occur as a result of infection. There's a sort of infection that can occur from different types of fungi. Farmer's lung, for example, is one such example of people who are working with straw and hay, and in an enclosed environment where mold can be growing in the hay. Breathing in the mold spores could actually cause an infection in their lungs. And as a result of that infection, you have damage to lung tissue and scar tissue formation. Other sorts of infections can also lead to the formation of lung damage and scar tissue formation. Now when the lungs are scarred, as I said earlier, you're kinda stuck with that. But along with the scar tissue formation, there's also typically an increased level of inflammation. With the inflammation comes an increased production of mucus. So these things are things that we can intervene and help with. We can reduce the inflammation by rebalancing the immune system. We can reduce the mucus that forms, that can clog the small airways, through the use of different types of mucolytic agents, whether it be natural mucolytic agents, or whether it be pharmaceutical ones. There's a wide range of things that we can use to help to liquefy the mucus, get it out of the person's system, so they could breathe easier. Also, exercise over a period of time helps to stimulate other parts of the lungs that haven't been such affected to compensate to a certain extent and improve overall pulmonary function.
One of the better exercises is swimming, for example, because it allows for lots and lots of deep breathing. As you're doing the overhand crawl, you're physically and mechanically expanding the chest cavity, breathing in lots of good air presumably, and thus increasing the oxygen levels in your blood, or exercising all the accessory muscles in your ribcage that help the lungs to expand and contract. Other things that could be done to help with people with COPD, are in the early and somewhat experimental stages with the use of adult stem cells. There's research that shows that if we take our own stem cells that we can get from the bone marrow or from our fat tissue, concentrate them, purify them, and inject them intravenously, that this too can help with pulmonary function to some extent.
When we inject stem cells intravenously, they tend to migrate to areas of chronic inflammation. So first, of course, we'll take a look at the person's blood test to see what their systemic levels of inflammation are, address them as much as possible. So the only information that's really left is that in the lungs where you want the stem cells to go. And then when we infuse them intravenously, they tend to migrate to the areas of lung damage and can, over a period of months, gradually improve pulmonary function. This kind of treatment is still relatively early in our therapeutic armamentarium, but it shows great promise for people with COPD. The bottom line is, the sooner that you address the COPD, the less further lung damage will accumulate, and the better the quality and quantity of life will be.