The latest research has uncovered a potential target for developing a way to treat the source of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a chronic lung disease that currently does not have any therapies to treat its root cause.
In pulmonary fibrosis, the connective tissue between the lungs’ air sacs develops scar tissue, which contributes to the gradual impairment of lung function. Sadly, prognosis of IPF is poor, with an average lifespan of only two to three years after diagnosis. And, as mentioned, there’s no treatment for the source of the disease.
However, Prof. Dr. Oliver Eickelberg and Dr. Claudia Staab-Weijnitz of the Comprehensive Pneumology Center (CPC) at Helmholtz Zentrum München and their colleagues at LMU University Hospital in Munich and Yale University School of Medicine recently did some research into what really causes IPF’s scar tissue buildup…and their findings may have led to a possible target for the development of an actual disease treatment, possibly a drug.
Through their analysis, the researchers noted elevated levels of the protein FKBP10 in the lungs of patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. If the over-production of this protein could somehow be stopped, the researchers speculate that this could successfully cure the lung disease. The next step will be to formulate a therapy to inhibit FKBP10 production.
Co-lead researcher, Dr. Claudia Staab-Weijnitz, said, “…FKBP10 represents a potential new target molecule for the individualized therapy of IPF. In the future, these results could also lead to new therapeutic options for the treatment of other fibrotic diseases.”
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis causes
The term “idiopathic” in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis refers to the cause being unknown. Potential causes of pulmonary fibrosis include the inhalation of pollution, certain medications, or an infection.
Factors that can increase your risk of developing IPF are:
- Breathing in wood or metal dust
- Acid reflex disease
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis symptoms
Symptoms of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis include:
- Dry, hacking cough that doesn’t go away
- Shortness of breath
- Being more tired than usual
- Joint and muscle aches
- Losing weight without trying
- Tips of fingers and toes become wider—known as “clubbing”
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis treatment
At the moment, treatment for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis consists of symptom management, as there is no cure for the disease. Treatments that can aid with symptoms include:
- Medications to slow down lung scarring and damage
- Oxygen therapy
- Pulmonary rehabilitation, which may involve healthy eating, exercise, relaxation, and stress relief, and the means to help you save your energy
Working closely with your doctor can help you create a personalized treatment plan in order to offer you the best relief of symptoms associated with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.