NIH Commits Major Grant Funds Towards Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Study

According to a story from PR Newswire, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Three Lakes Partners have awarded a grant to the tune of $22 million to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF). This money will go towards the organization’s PRECISIONs study. This study is designed to develop personalized, precision medicine technology for the diagnosis of the lung disease idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

About Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF)

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is a deadly, chronic, progressive lung disease which is characterized by lung tissue scarring, leading to a decline in lung function over time. The cause of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is unknown. With that being said, there are a few risk factors that have been identified, such as smoking cigarettes, exposure to various dusts (metal, wood, stone, and coal dust), occupations related to farming, family history, and potentially certain viral infections. Symptoms include shortness of breath, a dry cough, a distinctive crackling sound detected with a stethoscope, oxygen deficiency in the blood, and clubbed digits. There are few treatment options that can have a significant impact on the progression of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Treatment may include certain medications, pulmonary rehabilitation, oxygen therapy, and lung transplant. Early intervention can make a major difference in outcomes; five year survival rate is between 20 and 40 percent. To learn more about idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, click here.

Making Progress in Diagnosis and Treatment

Over 200,000 people in the US are living with some form of pulmonary fibrosis; the idiopathic variant is the most prevalent type. The non-specific symptoms make diagnosis of the disease a serious challenge and there is an urgent need for improvements in both treatment and diagnosis. However, this research initiative will employ the most advanced technology available to help improve disease diagnosis. There are three total objectives for the study. These include:

  1. Decide if the treatment known as N-Acetyl-cysteine (NAC) will be useful for the 25 percent of patients that carry a particular genetic variant known as TOLLIP rs3750920 T/T.
  2. Develop a clear method for distinguishing idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis from other forms of interstitial lung disease. This will include a number of approaches such as proteomics, blood transcriptomics, and the molecular analysis of blood samples on a massive scale.
  3. Attempt to find other genetic variants that could be risk factors for the disease.

This project has the potential to make major improvements in the outcomes for patients with this disease. The cornerstone for this study will be the PFF’s Biorepository and Patient Registry, which holds critical data for this research. 

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