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Making progress with pulmonary fibrosis research

Ian talks about how we're getting closer to our research goals.

For a long time, pulmonary fibrosis was a neglected disease. Not enough research was happening, and there were no treatments.

Over the past decade, we’ve seen a real change. We’ve taken great strides forward. We now understand the condition a lot better, and new treatments have been introduced.

People with pulmonary fibrosis have scarred and thickened ‘alveoli’. These are the parts of the lungs that take oxygen into the body. The scarring means they can’t work as well as they should.

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis kills around 5,300 people in the UK every year. And the outlook for people who are newly diagnosed is worse than some cancers - on average, people live for around 3 years after diagnosis.

Despite this, there’s very low public awareness of it. And until recently, there has been little research into pulmonary fibrosis. A few treatments have become available, but they don’t work for everyone and new approaches are urgently needed.


Over the last few years, more and more research info pulmonary fibrosis has been happening. There’s real momentum building.

Now there are research groups across the UK. Their primary focus is understanding pulmonary fibrosis – and using that knowledge to develop new treatments and preventions.

In recent years here at the British Lung Foundation, we’ve spent more than £600,000 on pulmonary fibrosis research. I’m looking forward to giving the go-ahead to invest another £300,000 more on vital research over the coming year.

And I can’t wait to see the real-world impact that research has on people with pulmonary fibrosis.

My goal for pulmonary fibrosis research

We're desperate to develop a cure that will stop the disease in its tracks if somebody does get it. To do this, we need to understand what causes it, and take steps to stop it occurring in the first place.

Achieving this is likely to take decades of work.

Until then, we need to focus on developing effective treatments as quickly as possible. And we also need to come up with better approaches to caring for people with pulmonary fibrosis – to help them have a better quality of life.

What we’re doing

It’s my job to look after all the research we carry out. There are lots of very different lung diseases - so with limited resources, it’s crucial that our research has the biggest possible impact.

We’ve identified pulmonary fibrosis as one of our priorities for research.

This means we offer opportunities for cutting-edge research projects that are specifically aimed at pulmonary fibrosis.

By doing this, we’re sending a message out to the research community. We’re saying that pulmonary fibrosis matters – and encouraging more world-class research in this area.

A long way to go

There’s still a long way to go – but we’re on the right track now.

We’re building real momentum for pulmonary fibrosis research. And that can only mean better things for people with pulmonary fibrosis.

This is all possible because of your incredible donations. Every gift makes a difference, and brings us one step further to our goal of eradicating pulmonary fibrosis completely.

Can you help me fund more life-changing research? Make a donation to our pulmonary fibrosis appeal today >


I'm delighted to see this happening finally. I lost my mum at 62 to this terrible disease because no one understood how to treat it. We were lucky we got 14 years with her after diagnosis but she was still taken far too soon. Hearing that research is being done gives me hope for the future. 
I have been diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis and Emphysema for the past 10 +years. Instead of undergoing a full lung transplant I was able to go on a clinical trial of medication called Nintedanib which I have been taking for the last 12 months. These tablets have given me a new lease of life ,I can breath and get about much more than I could before, so I would just like to Thank everybody involved with Research into cause .THANK YOU ALL
I have been diagnosed with this disease in June 2014 and after some tests to determine if the disease could be something else the doctors have concluded I have ILD and since they do not know the cause of the disease I have receive no treatment except for a 6 monthly lung function test and a 6 minutes walk test at the hospital. I have been told that the latest drugs (Ofev and Esbriet) for treatment of IPF are not suitable for me as IPF is different from ILD. I hope the research can give us some hope and treatment as I feel so hopeless just waiting for the disease to consume me. Thank you for giving me the space to express my thoughts.
I was diagnosed a year ago and was lucky to get on a program run by Southmead hospital in Bristol, put on Nintedanib & am monitored every 3/4 months. I am also undergoing a Pulmonary Rehabilitation course of exercise & education. I am 77 yrs old & prior to diagnosis, in pretty good health. The cause of my disease is unknown, but I think that vehicle pollution(especially diesel) has played a large part namely Nitrogen oxide & micro particulates which have been allowed to proliferate by many governments around the world whilst they concentrate on carbon dioxide reduction. Is this an area of research that has or is being undertaken, & if not, why not ?
Since my mother was diagnosed with IPF four years ago, I have often wondered why this illness is so poorly managed and the only conclusion is due to lack of research and funding. I hope a cure is found soon as it is so frustrating watching a loved one suffer knowing there is little help available.

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17 September 2016