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We’re working on an urgently needed treatment for IPF

Professor Robin McAnulty has been working on a research project that seeks to find a potential treatment for pulmonary fibrosis.

Every day, people receive a devastating diagnosis – they have IPF. We know their lungs will become progressively more scarred and it will take a heavy toll on their health and life expectancy (as little as 2-5 years after diagnosis). But we don’t yet know what causes the scarring also called fibrosis.

In recent times, two new treatments for IPF have been developed, but they are only suitable for a relatively small number of people with the condition. A new approach is urgently needed.

How our project worked

We think we are beginning to understand what's happening at a cellular level when your lungs start to get scarred. As part of this research, we will test certain drugs to find out if they can stop the scarring process. The aim of this project was to establish the effect of these drugs on genes and cellular functions associated with the development of lung fibrosis.

We hope to establish a drug treatment that will keep the scarring under control, offering hope of an effective treatment.

The genes involved in the process of fibrosis have been identified already. And we know that a mechanism called methylation regulates these genes. We have been looking into if drugs currently used to treat cancer may be used to regulate methylation.

We observed the effect of each drug with the aim of finding a way to control the process of methylation and bring lung scarring under control. Our results have shown that drugs that regulate methylation could benefit some IPF patients. So this is definitely an avenue worth pursuing further on the quest for better treatments for this lung disease.

Potential impact

This project offers hope to everyone affected by lung fibrosis that, in the future, there will be the chance of a longer, healthier life with the condition. Our aim is to take the next steps towards a treatment that brings the process of scarring under control. This could potentially benefit not only patients with IPF, but also other fibrotic conditions.

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27 August 2020