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New research into IPF

We’ve recently awarded 2 grants for research into idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). This ground-breaking research hopes to improve the lives of those living with IPF.

How can we improve the diagnosis and management of IPF?

Dr Nicholas Hannan from the University of Nottingham has been awarded the BLF-Masonic Charitable Foundation PhD studentship award. Funding for the BLF-Masonic Charitable Foundation PhD studentship award is generously provided by the Masonic Charitable Foundation. 

Nicholas wants to understand how lung infection and lung scarring impact the progression of IPF. The award will allow a student in Nicholas’ research group to carry research, under close supervision, and gain a PhD. The BLF is committed to investing in the next generation of lung researchers through PhD awards. 

At the moment, we don’t know enough about how best to diagnose and treat lung conditions, and one of the challenges is not having accurate models. Models allow for the characteristics of lung conditions to be replicated outside of the human body in the laboratory. Nicholas’ research wants to create a stem cell model of IPF to understand 3 key points:

  • how genetic changes in a protein called surfactant protein-C (SFTPC) impact the lungs. It is thought that changes to SFTPC play a role in inherited IPF
  • how infections impact on and make IPF worse
  • how scarring in IPF affects lung function

By addressing these poorly understood issues, Nicholas’ research could provide opportunities for new ways to diagnose IPF, be able to better track how somebody’s IPF will progress and help identify new treatments. 

Changing the way we measure IPF's impact on the lungs

Dr William Man from the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust has been awarded the BLF-Pulmonary Fibrosis Trust Malcolm Weallans pulmonary fibrosis research grant. 50% of funding for the BLF-Pulmonary Fibrosis Trust Malcolm Weallans pulmonary fibrosis research grant is generously provided by the Pulmonary Fibrosis Trust .

William plans to use sound waves to measure how well the lungs work in IPF.

Breathing tests (that measure how well your lungs are working) require a lot of effort for people with IPF. They can make them cough or feel very breathless, and some people with IPF are even unable to complete the test.

Impulse oscillometry (iOS) is a new type of breathing test. It uses sound waves to measure the elasticity of the lung. The test is very quick to perform (around 2 minutes), does not require any effort from the patient and only requires a person to breathe in their usual way. William’s research is going to compare iOS and traditional lung function tests in people with IPF.

Not only will this allow people with IPF to have their condition monitored with a test less likely to cause tiredness or coughing, it’s also quicker to perform than traditional lung function tests. This could mean reduced pressure on the health service and reduced time that patients wait for appointments. 

This research could also help doctors and other health care professionals manage patients with IPF better and improve the experiences of patients with IPF. It could also help the development of new treatments by assessing the severity of the condition more accurately in people with IPF. This research could provide the basis for further work to see if iOS measures can help to predict life expectancy for patients with IPF. 

Support our research during IPF week 2019

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13 September 2019