Colo. – A team of researchers led by David Schwartz, MD, chair
of the Department of Medicine, has been awarded a $7.9 million grant from the
National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute (NHLBI) to search for better
treatments for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).
researchers at the University of Colorado will partner with Parion Sciences, a
Durham, N.C.-based biotech company to create molecules called “mucolytic
agents” that are designed to help patients with lung diseases clear mucus from
their lungs. These agents could become drugs aimed at dramatically
improving the lives of millions of people who suffer from some lung diseases,
such as IPF.
studies we propose have the potential to improve early diagnosis and treatment
of pulmonary fibrosis, and thus could have a highly significant overall impact
on what is now essentially an incurable disease,” said Schwartz.
“As a science-driven company, it is gratifying to partner
with such premier academic institutions like the University of Colorado to
successfully secure competitive NIH Awards,” said Paul Boucher, president of
Parion Sciences. “The NIH support and the combined expertise of the
collaborations boost our innovative mucolytic program as we advance through the
Schwartz published two research papers in the New England Journal of Medicine
and one in Nature Genetics that found a particular genetic variation in a gene
that produces mucous identifies individuals at risk of developing pulmonary
fibrosis, a chronic progressive disease with a median survival of three years.
Those studies suggested that future drug trials should consider targeting
mucous in early stages of this incurable disease. While two drugs (Pirfenidone
and Nintedanib) have been approved recently by the FDA for treating IPF, those
drugs do not prevent disease progression.
ion Sciences is designing and testing novel mucolytic
agents that specifically target mucus structure to facilitate mucus clearance
from the lungs. There is a need for agents that clear adherent secretions from
the lungs in acute and chronic pulmonary disorders. If approved by the FDA, the
agents will become drugs aimed at dramatically improving the lives of millions
of people who suffer from COPD, CF, and IPF.
Part of the National Institutes of Health, the NHLBI
and supports research related to the causes, prevention, diagnosis, and
treatment of heart, blood vessel, lung, and blood diseases; and sleep
disorders. The Institute also administers national health education campaigns
on women and heart disease, healthy weight for children, and other topics.
NHLBI press releases and other materials are available online at http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov.