Researchers receive $2 million to transform lung disease treatments
Australian lung health researchers have received more than $2 million from the Federal Government’s Medical Research Future Fund to transform treatments for people with Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD) like asbestosis and sarcoidosis.
The four-year collaborative multidisciplinary research project will be led by Professor Yuben Moodley from the Institute for Respiratory Health (IRH).
There is currently no cure for ILD – a group of lung diseases characterised by inflammation and scarring (fibrosis) of the lung tissue. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including exposure to toxins, infections, autoimmune diseases and genetic mutations.
Symptoms affect both men and women and can include shortness of breath, cough and fatigue and the condition can lead to significant disability and even death.
“We’re proposing a new ground-breaking approach to treating ILD,” Professor Moodley said.
“The problem is that there is no one-size-fits-all treatment because everyone’s case is different. Our new approach is called ‘personalised medicine’.
“What this means is that we will look at each patient’s individual situation and come up with a treatment plan that works best for them.”
The researchers will identify different traits and symptoms that can be treated and then test if treating these will improve patient outcomes. They will also use new technologies to study the genetic and cellular makeup of the disease to see if there are any new treatments that can be developed.
“A personalised approach to the care of ILDs has never been taken before and we believe it will lead to better health outcomes for patients,” Professor Moodley said.
“We will test outcomes at the Institute for Respiratory Health’s clinical trials unit right here in Perth. We will look for improvements in quality of life, how successful the personalised treatment has been in helping the patient and whether the disease has progressed or not.
“The second phase of our study will use cutting-edge technologies looking at blood and fluid from the lungs to see if we can a find better way to treat this group of lung diseases.
“This is an exciting time for respiratory medical research, our study could lead to improved treatments, a better quality of life and even save lives for people living with ILD.”
Professor Geoff Stewart, Director of IRH said, “This is a great outcome for lung health research and for people living with ILD. Lung disease is the second biggest killer in Australia. It impacts a patient’s health and also their ability to work and enjoy life.
“Despite lung disease being such a big problem, it only receives two per cent of research investment. This significant funding from the government is a step in the right direction.”
The Australian consortium of research experts includes Curtin University the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, the Institute for Respiratory Health, the Institute for Breathing and Sleep, Metro North Hospital Health Service, Monash University, the University of Queensland, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, the University of Sydney, the University of Technology Sydney, the University of Tasmania and the University of Western Australia.
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