Researchers from UC San Francisco recently announced several discoveries after the completion of five significant studies about lung disease, which were recently published in The New England Journal of Medicine. As a result of the studies, two different drugs were proven to be effective for treating idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), while the contrary was observed in the analysis of a third drug. Other two studies established the ineptitude of statins against acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
A study led by Talmadge E. King, Jr., MD, professor and chair of UCSF’s Department of Medicine, assessed the effects of the drug pirfendone in the treatment of IPF. The drug, which is now identified as being effective, is already being used as a therapy for COPD in other countries, but it lacks approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States. Pirfendone was shown to reduce the risk of death in 68 percent of the patients who were administering it as a treatment for 52 weeks.
For the same disease, a different trial proved the efficacy of the drug nintedanibin. The study was led by Harold R. Collard, MD, associate professor of medicine and director of UCSF’s Interstitial Lung Disease Program and conducted by a research group known as the INPULSIS Trial Investigators. Both pirfendone and nintedanibin were able to significantly slow the rate of disease progression in patients with mild to moderate IPF.
The two researchers enrolled a third study to examine a compound known as acetylcysteine, which was proven to make no difference in disease progression in patients taking the drug or placebo. The study was conducted by the Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Clinical Research Network.
The results of the three trials indicate that “idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is a disease perpetuated by aberrant wound healing, rather than primarily by chronic inflammation,” according to editorial author Gary M. Hunninghake, MD, MPH, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
Michael A. Matthay, MD, professor of medicine and anesthesia, Kathleen D. Liu, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine, and Carolyn Calfee, MD, associate professor of medicine studied the effectiveness of rosuvastatin in ARDS patients and weren’t able to find any benefit from this treatment. The trial was conducted by The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute ARDS Clinical Trials Network.
The same results were found in the analysis of simvastatin in COPD patients, in a fifth trial led by Stephen C. Lazarus, MD, professor of medicine, Prescott G. Woodruff, MD, associate professor of medicine, and members the COPD Clinical Research Network and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
Despite the negative findings, the results are significant as both drugs, which are approved by the FDA to treat inflammatory responses in other conditions, have been administrated to patients with both ARDS and COPD.
The findings of all five studies were presented at the annual meeting of the American Thoracic Society in San Diego, California.