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Researchers in the laboratory of Dr. Hao Shen at the University of Pennsylvania in collaboration with Dr. Ying Tian at Temple University identified that increased expression of microRNA (miRNA) from the miR302 family coincided with regeneration of AECs. miRNA-mimics are double-stranded RNA molecules intended to “mimic” native miRNAs. The Shen Lab found that administration of miR302-mimics to mice infected with bacterial pneumonia improves AEC regeneration and lung function, and enhances mouse recovery and survival.
Addition of exogenous miR302 by miRNA mimics increases proliferation of lung progenitor cells and accelerates the repair of lung injury, which is expected to shorten patient recovery times. miR302-mimics could potentially be administered in conjunction with antimicrobial therapy to improve patient outcomes. This approach may also provide long-term benefits by reducing severe chronic pathological conditions, such as COPD, which are associated with repeated lung infections, injuries and defects in tissue regeneration.