New Pulmonary Fibrosis Diagnostic Tool Would Be Faster & Quicker

Ana Pamplona, PhD avatar

by Ana Pamplona, PhD |

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shutterstock_195092525A new study highlighting a diagnostic test based on peripheral blood for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis entitled “Familial and sporadic idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis: making the diagnosis from peripheral blood” was recently published in BMC Genomics by Eric B Meltzer at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. In this study, the research team validated the diagnosis of sporadic idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis from peripheral blood samples by identifying a functional genetic signature. This new data may improve the diagnosis of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, making it quicker and easier.

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Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) is a disease of the lung characterized by a progressive scarring of the pulmonary tissue that leads to a decrease of functional lung volume and oxygen uptake. The origin of IPF is not known; many people live only for 3 to 5 years after diagnosis, and the disease currently has no cure. The main cause of death of IPF is respiratory failure. The acute exacerbation of IPF (AE-IPF) has an extremely poor prognosis and is believed to occur per year in 5-10% of patients with IPF. In the United States and Europe, there are 200,000 patients with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF), including 48,000 new cases diagnosed every year. The 50-70 year old age group is the primary group affected by IPF. In 2015, the combination of an elderly population with improved diagnostics will increase the diagnosed population by 40% to 146,000 in the USA where 40,000 patients die of IPF every year.

The standard method for diagnosing IPF can be very difficult. For an accurate diagnosis, the integration of clinical, pathological and radiological data, and multidisciplinary discussion among respective experts is necessary. Unfortunately, there are currently no blood tests available.

Doug Unwin, President and CEO of Pacific Therapeutics stated in a press release that “diagnosis of IPF frequently requires a battery of invasive tests including biopsies and CT Scans. Additionally, the diagnosis usually needs to be confirmed by a team of doctors with varied specialties. Being able to improve and speed the diagnoses of IPF with a simple blood test would be a welcome event for patients, physicians and researchers alike.”

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Pacific Therapeutics Ltd. programs focus on diseases of excessive scarring (fibrosis) and erectile dysfunction. The company has developed lead drug candidate PTL-202 for fibrosis (progressive scarring of the organ), which is a combination of an FDA approved drug and an extremely potent and significant antioxidant. In several preclinical studies, The company has confirmed the anti-fibrotic activity of PTL-202 and has completed a phase 1 clinical trial of the combination with positive results.

Decision Resources Group estimates that by 2020 the size of the market for IPF therapies will be $4.6 billion in Europe and the United States. Therefore, Fibrosis treatments appear to be a lucrative option for large pharmaceutical companies, such as Bristol-Myers Squibb who recently launched an early-stage program for IPF, for up to $444 million in upfront payments and milestones.

In 2008, the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that “It’s estimated that 45% of all deaths are related to fibrotic changes.”