Researchers develop diagnostic test for detecting pulmonary fibrosis

A pulmonary fibrosis (PF) is caused by progressive scarring of a healthy lung. Untreated, it can progress to cause profound shortness of breath. Prolonged damage can lead to patient death.

A team of researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have developed a highly sensitive and specific biopsy-selective anti-fibrotic marker for diagnosing PF. The result is published in Science Translational Medicine.

Poorest cases of PF involve the development of scar tissue, which limits lung functionality. To date, no effective drugs exist that inhibit the progression of the disease. On the one hand, antibiotics reduce the severity of bacterial lung infections, yet on the other hand, lung fluid from patients prevents normal lung function.

Now, however, scientists at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have come up with a new and highly sensitive biopsy-selective marker for detecting PF. The test consists of a protein, an excimer, injected through a needle into the toe area of the abdomen. The protein is then metabolized and destroyed by a fluorine. In total, the result is a new marker that can be detected by means of a simple pain-based assay.

We have developed a test to identify patients with PF suffering from a chronic nasal infection, which is characteristic to PF. Our test is particularly sensitive against bacterial and viral infections, as well as for AIX-infections, which are more common in PF patients. Our results are of a particular interest as, although current drug testing and treatment regimens are quite active agents in the development of our disease, as new agents and modes of treatment being developed are likely to be clinically adopted in future practice. “

Sophie Skardal Kandler, Associate Professor at the Department of Medicine, Karolinska Institutet.

Needle in the haystack.

COCHR-PF is caused by a viral infection. In the absence of antibiotics, the patients’ lung bleeds out and they soon cannot breathe. In the worst cases, patients suffer from inflammation, but between 1 and 10 per cent die from the condition due to lung damage.

One possible treatment is ventilation, which can help the patient. If the patient is ICU, special measures are taken, such as closing the air passages to stop the injury caused by fluid within the lungs and keeping pressure on the lung.

In contrast, in the ICU a progressive pulmonary scar forms on the lung, usually forming pulmonary fibrosis in the region of the scar. In the absence of antibiotics the patients often experience severe shortness of breath which can have a substantial impact on the people around the patient.