TIME Research

Researchers Identify Drugs To Slow Incurable Lung Disease

New study found that pirfenidone and nintedanib can aid sufferers of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a disease that until now had no treatment at all

Researchers said Sunday that they have identified two drugs which could aid breathing and prolong life for patients suffering from an incurable lung disease.

The drugs, pirfenidone and nintedanib, slow the decline of patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, the researchers said during a meeting of the American Thoracic Society in San Diego. Their findings were published in The New England Journal of Medicine. Although the drugs do not cure the disease, which scars and thickens the lungs making it hard to breathe, researchers called the findings a “major breakthrough” for an ailment that until now has had no treatment at all.

“I suspect that many of my patients have picked up on more than a hint of frustration in my voice when I tell them that the cause of their shortness of breath is idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis,” Dr. Gary M. Hunninghake, a lung specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, wrote in an editorial accompanying the study. “This frustration stems from the fact that beyond providing information about prognosis or referral for lung transplantation or palliation, there has been little to offer in the way of treatment. …The game has now changed.”

The drugs’ manufacturers helped pay for the study, the New York Times reports. At least 80,000 Americans suffer from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, which causes scarring of the lungs and is fatal within three to five years for most patients.

Tap to read full story

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com


Dear TIME Reader,

As a regular visitor to TIME.com, we are sure you enjoy all the great journalism created by our editors and reporters. Great journalism has great value, and it costs money to make it. One of the main ways we cover our costs is through advertising.

The use of software that blocks ads limits our ability to provide you with the journalism you enjoy. Consider turning your Ad Blocker off so that we can continue to provide the world class journalism you have become accustomed to.

The TIME Team