Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (or IPF) is a debilitating disease that affects more than 2000 Australians.
It attacks the tissue in your lungs, causing them to become stiff and making everyday tasks like walking up-stairs near impossible.
A life with IPF is short – with most patients passing away 3 to 5 years after diagnosis – and painful. Patients are left breathless, tired and often with a constant dry cough. Unfortunately there are virtually no options in the treatment of IPF other than making the patient as comfortable as possible.
That is why Dr Chambers and his team in the thoracic lab at The Prince Charles Hospital are looking for the first key in effectively treating IPF. One of the characteristics of the disease is the apparent depletion of a certain type of stem cell in the lungs – mesenchymal stem cells (or MSCs). So, Dan and his team are working hard to find out – can we simply replace the lost MSCs with new ones? And will that improve the life of IPF patients?
The study is already showing positive results, and if successful will not only help patients with IPF but could be the solution for other lung diseases and even lung transplant treatments.