Gene activity that predicts outcomes for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis

Research in the USA has identified genes that can predict outcomes and lead to better treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).

IPF causes progressive scarring of the lungs, leading to cough and shortness of breath. In many cases, the cause cannot be identified and there is no cure other than a lung transplant. The researchers wanted to identify changes in the activity of genes in the blood that are predictive of poor outcomes in IPF.

The research, published in Science Translational Medicine, analysed the activity of genes in people with IPF. They identified 52 genes that affect how the body responds to IPF, with four genes predicting shorter survival time.

This discovery will help better predict if disease will occur, how severe it will be, and lifespan. “Given the fact that lung transplantation is the only therapy that has shown to improve survival in IPF, our test could allow physicians to refer IPF patients for lung transplant at the right time – not too late and not too early,” said Dr Naftali Kaminski, lead author of the study.

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