Foundation awards $1 million for pulmonary fibrosis research

January 18, 2007

The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation has awarded $1 million over three years to Joe G.N. Garcia, MD, PhD, professor and chairman of the department of medicine, and Imre Noth, MD, assistant professor of medicine, to develop a Center for Excellence in Pulmonary Fibrosis.

"This is a fairly common and potentially devastating disease that we know very little about and have only limited funds to study," said Noth, director of the University of Chicago Pulmonary Fibrosis Program. "This should make a real difference in our ability to understand this disease and ultimately in the tools we have to treat it."

Pulmonary fibrosis involves progressive scarring of the lung. Over time, the air sacs of the lungs are gradually replaced by fibrotic tissue. As scar forms, the tissue becomes thicker, losing the ability to transfer oxygen to the blood. This causes shortness of breath, chronic dry cough, fatigue, discomfort and weight loss.

About five million people worldwide are affected, including more than 200,000 patients in the United States, more than 40,000 of whom die each year. The exact cause remains unknown. There are currently no effective treatments or a cure.

The University of Chicago Pulmonary Fibrosis Center--a team of clinicians, physician-scientists, geneticists and information specialists--will combine laboratory and clinical research to understand the disease at the molecular level and to improve treatment for patients, including those who require lung transplantation.

It will be organized around three integrated cores focused on genetics, animal models of lung disease and clinical research. Projects include building an extensive database that connects genetic variation with the manifestations of the disease, determining the "molecular signatures" for patients with comparatively stable versus rapidly progressive disease, searching for candidate genes and novel therapeutic targets, and developing and implementing animal models of pulmonary fibrosis and of lung transplantation.

Now based in Chicago, the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation is a non-profit corporation founded in Colorado in 2000 by Albert Rose, Michael Rosenzweig, and Marvin Schwarz.

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