Here are our top 10 stories of 2017, based on the number of views each received.
Two studies presented at the American Thoracic Society 2017 International Conference in Washington showed that people with severe cases of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis can benefit from Esbriet (pirfenidone), not just patients with moderate lung function impairment. The findings were from the Phase 3 ASCEND (NCT01366209) and CAPACITY (NCT00287729 and NCT00287716) trials. Researchers concluded that Esbriet can reduce the risk of death and slow lung function decline in people with severe cases of IPF. It can also the breathlessness from worsening in patients with moderate lung function impairment.
Revefenacin (TD-4208) proved to be a safe treatment for COPD, and patients tolerated it well, according to a Phase 3 clinical trial (NCT02518139). Previous trials had shown it to be effective as well. The long-acting muscarinic antagonist is the first once-a-day mist-delivered therapy for COPD. Theravance Biopharma and Mylan designed it to be compatible with a range of jet nebulizers, or devices that change liquids to mists. The trial results led to the partners filing a New Drug Application for Revefenacin with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration later in 2017.
In February, an international group of experts updated cystic fibrosis diagnosis guidelines. The idea was to help doctors make a correct diagnosis and offer personalized treatment to their patients. An article about the new guidelines, “Applying Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator Genetics and CFTR2 Data to Facilitate Diagnoses,” was published in The Journal of Pediatrics.
In August, researchers published the results of a study suggesting that e-cigarettes carry much less cancer risk than tobacco smoke, although some types are more risky than others. Heat-not-burn devices are a lot less likely to cause cancer than cigarettes but carry a greater risk than most e-cigarettes, the research showed.
German researchers released a study in March showing how the pulmonary fibrosis therapies Ofev (nintedanib) and Esbriet(pirfenidone) work. The team discovered that the drugs reduce the production of several proteins involved in lung tissue scarring, or fibrosis. They also lead to fewer harmful collagen fibrils developing in lung cells. The findings were significant because scientists knew the drugs slowed the progression of IPF, but they didn’t know how.
Also in March, researchers reported that heat shock protein 90 is more active in pulmonary fibrosis patients’ lung cells than in the lungs of healthy people. They also identified a molecule, 17-AAG, which reduced the protein’s activity, preventing fibrosis in mice with IPF. The findings could lead to new treatments, they said. The article they published in the journal JCI Insight was titled “Hsp90 regulation of fibroblast activation in pulmonary fibrosis.”
In May, the INOpulse nitric oxide delivery system met its primary Phase 2 clinical trial goal of increasing blood vessel volume in pulmonary hypertension patients with IPF. The results were presented at the American Thoracic Society International Conference in Washington. Researchers found that not only did four weeks of INOpulse therapy widen blood vessels, but it also reduced pulmonary artery pressure by an average of 17.4 percent.
In June, the National Institutes of Health’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute awarded $6.9 million to researchers studying lung cell regeneration processes at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine. The hope is the research will lead to new therapies for chronic lung disease. The team will use the grant to explore how cells in the alveoli — structures responsible for gas exchange in the lungs — maintain themselves and recover from injury. The project could help researchers develop ways to prevent the progression of lung diseases such as pulmonary fibrosis and COPD.
U.S. regulators approved Esbriet as a pulmonary fibrosis treatment in 2014. An article in April 2017 in the journal Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management reported that Esbriet does prolong survival in IPF patients and is safe. Esbriet slowed patients’ decline in a measure of lung function called forced vital capacity over time and lengthened the time it took for their disease to progress.
The top article of 2017 was a story about North Carolina researchers who made significant progress toward a stem cell treatment for lung diseases like pulmonary fibrosis, cystic fibrosis and COPD. Their work was published in two articles, one showing that it is possible to isolate lung stem cells with a relatively non-invasive procedure, and a second showing that stem cells reduce fibrosis in mouse models of PF. In humans, the researchers’ goal would be to use patients’ own stem cells to minimize the risk of immune reactions. The group said it planned to work with the FDA on the first clinical trials of the potential therapy — a study that would involve pulmonary fibrosis patients.
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We wish all our readers a happy and inspirational 2018.