Developing new medications and treatments to reverse scarring in the lungs has been identified as the top priority for Pulmonary Fibrosis (PF) researchers, after a comprehensive study of those most affected by the condition.
The study, believed to be a world first, was conducted by the Centre of Research Excellence in Pulmonary Fibrosis along with Monash and La Trobe universities, and Lung Foundation Australia.
Professor Anne Holland from Monash University said the insights provided by more than 250 stakeholders, including patients, caregivers, health professionals and researchers, gives researchers clarity on where they should focus their ongoing work to improve lung health.
“This has been an opportunity to try to get a very clear answer as to the most important areas for future funding of PF research, and gaps to be addressed,” she said.
“The aim of the study was to make sure the research we are doing aligns with what the PF community believes are the most important issues.”
Key findings of the research included:
- Along with medications to reverse lung scarring, identifying the causes of PF also featured in the top three priorities for those surveyed.
- For those with PF and carers, the development of medications to improve lung function rounded out the top three priorities; for HPs and researchers, preventing PF was the final top three priority.
- Other priority areas identified included reducing symptoms, cough and shortness of breath; exercise, preventing PF symptoms worsening over time and the development of anti-fibrotic drugs that are equally as effective but with fewer side effects.
Prof Holland said she was surprised that PF causes and prevention were identified so highly.
“It suggests that those interviewed, the majority of which were those with PF and their caregivers, are concerned about the potential impact of PF on the next generation, not just within their own families but from a wider perspective.
“This is an important theme, that hope for a future where what they are dealing with does not have to be dealt with by others down the track.”
The next step will be mapping out study findings alongside existing knowledge.
“This study is just the start, allowing us to bring our scientific work together with the medical side,” Prof Holland said.