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Posted on Mon, Aug 24, 2009 : 11:30 a.m.

University of Michigan researchers discover potential treatment for inflammatory lung disorder

By Tina Reed

University of Michigan researchers believe they may have discovered a treatment for the deadly inflammatory lung disorder idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis after finding positive testing results in mice.

Patients with pulmonary fibrosis experience fatigue, weakness, rapid weight loss, discomfort in the chest and a chronic cough associated with the gradual scarring in the lung that eventually causes it to lose the ability to exchange oxygen with blood. It usually has a three-year survival rate.

Researchers discovered, by attacking a certain enzyme in the body, that it played a role in the formation of scar-like tissue in the lungs that’s characteristic of the disorder.

In a report to be published in the September edition of the journal Nature Medicine, researchers involved in the study said it could have implications in the treatment of fibrosis of the lungs as well as other in patients with cardiac or kidney diseases, which sometimes involves fibrosis.

“We’ve identified the target. We know the enemy now,” said Subramaniam Pennathur, assistant professor of internal medicine and nephrology, who was one of the researchers working on the project.

U-M is filing for a patent and is looking to license the technology. Human studies are still needed to see if researchers have found a successful strategy for halting the progression of fibrosis.

According to the Pulmonary Fibroris Foundation, there are more than 100,000 patients with the disorder in the United States.

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