Lung Regeneration – Longfonds highlights 2021

COPD is the third leading cause of death worldwide. COPD is one of the lung diseases in which the lung tissue continuously suffers damage. Currently, there is no cure. That's why we brought together the best researchers from around the world to accelerate a breakthrough and make lung tissue regeneration possible. At the same time, Lung Foundation Netherlands (Longfonds) is doing everything in its power to continue funding this research, and to show why this prevention is so important.

Lung tissue regeneration and the mini-lung

Until 2009, it seemed unthinkable: growing mini-organs in a laboratory. But thanks to a discovery by Hans Clevers and his team, this gained momentum. They managed to grow a living mini-intestine from mouse stem cells: the first mini-organ was a fact. Now Hans Clevers, together with Carla Kim (Harvard Medical School), leads the international research consortium, in which the mini-lung plays a crucial role in eventually repairing lung tissue damage. It is already possible to grow a mini-trachea and researchers are currently focusing on growing mini-alveoli. Such a mini-lung has great applications. We made a short animation about it.

Campaign for the lung tissue regeneration

People with damaged lungs eagerly await the mini-lung. For them, there is no hope of a solution yet. Therefore, the autumn of 2021 revolved around lung tissue damage and the mini-lung at Longfonds. With a campaign, we wanted to create more awareness for these patients and show why it is so important to be able to repair lung tissue. Here, extensive attention was paid to stories from patients, which were shared via the Longfonds channels and via national media. We reached millions of people in both written media and on television.

Hans Clevers and the mini-lung in the media

Hans Clevers also played a major role in the campaign. In the LONGFONDS Talk, he shared in ten minutes everything about his discovery of the mini-organs and what this could mean for lung patients. He also gave an inspiring webinar about mini-organs and innovation in medicine:

Moreover, Hans Clevers was a popular guest on television during our public campaign. For example, in the Dutch TV programme, Koffietijd, he talked about the mini-lung, just like during the major television event 'De Dansmarathon'. For this television event, Longfonds joined forces with the Vriendenloterij (Friends Lottery) and the Dutch television channel SBS6. One hundred dance couples drew attention to damaged lungs and the mini-lung in a fifty-hour television broadcast. Here, the proceeds that Longfonds received from the ticket sales of the Vriendenloterij fully went to the research into the mini-lung.