Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a debilitating lung disease that affects more than 2,000 Australians.
It attacks the tissue in the lungs, causing each lung to become stiff and making everyday tasks like walking up-stairs near impossible.
A life with IPF is short and painful, with most patients passing away only three to five years after their diagnosis. 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 Prof Dan 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 (MSCs). Prof Chambers and his team are working hard to find out whether we can we simply replace the lost MSCs with new ones, and if that will improve the lives of IPF patients.
His 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.
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