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Scientists discover methods to deter idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, reports ET HealthWorld

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Researchers find ways to prevent idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, ET HealthWorld

In a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan, a potential pathway has been discovered that could reverse idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a scarring of the lungs for which the cause is unclear. IPF can lead to severe symptoms such as shortness of breath, dry cough, and fatigue, with an average survival time of three to five years and currently no cure available. The study focused on understanding the process by which lung injury either leads to healing or fibrosis, specifically looking at how fibroblasts, cells that form connective tissue, play a role in the formation of scar tissue.

Using a mouse model and administering a chemotherapy agent to simulate IPF, the researchers found that the resulting lung scarring resolved itself over about six weeks. This discovery could potentially pave the way for new treatments to prevent or reduce IPF and associated lung disorders. One key finding of the study was the identification of a molecular brake called MKP1, which is expressed at lower levels in fibroblasts from patients with IPF. By genetically eliminating MKP1 in fibroblasts, the researchers observed uncontrolled fibrosis continuing, emphasizing the importance of this pathway in resolving fibrosis.

The study also revealed that current FDA-approved drugs for lung fibrosis are unable to turn off myofibroblasts, which play a crucial role in the formation of scar tissue. This new understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in fibrosis resolution could open up avenues for exploring additional brakes on fibrosis and potentially lead to the development of treatments that could reverse the scarring process. The researchers hope that their findings will contribute to the discovery of new targets for IPF and ultimately lead to the Holy Grail of reversing lung scarring in patients with the condition.

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