New drug shows promise for patients with IPF

An international clinical trial led by Professor Toby Maher at Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals (RBHH) has shown promising results for patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).

IPF is a disease caused by a build-up of scar tissue in the lungs called fibrosis, which causes the lungs to become stiffer and lose their elasticity, making it harder to breathe.

The condition is progressive and currently affects over 32,000 people across the UK, with approximately 7,800 people diagnosed with the disease every year.

Currently, no medical therapies have been found to cure IPF which is why there is an urgent need to undertake more research into the causes, treatments and cure for the disease.

As the leading UK centre for IPF research, RBHH runs and delivers multiple clinical trials into the condition through the recently funded Clinical Research Facility (CRF).

Dr Philip Molyneaux, respiratory consultant, was the lead UK investigator for this phase 2 trial and the early phase 1 trial of this drug, with both trials undertaken in the CRF.

This phase 2 trial aimed to determine whether the test drug BI 1015550 is able to slow down the worsening of lung function and assess for any side effects.

Participants were recruited to the study for approximately 3 months, with two thirds of the group randomly assigned to receive the test drug with the remaining third receiving a placebo (dummy tablet with no medicine).

Many IPF patients take antifibrotic drugs (to help slow down scarring) and those on the trial were allowed to continue to take their medication alongside the test drug/placebo.

Encouragingly the results from the trial on BI 1015550, either alone or with background use of an antifibrotic drug, showed that it prevented a decrease in lung function at 12 weeks in patients with IPF.

Dr Philip Molyneaux, director of the CRF, said:

“This is excellent news for patients. These encouraging, early data show the drug is able to work on its own and may have an additive effect for those patients already on antifibrotic therapy.

“We look forward to the follow up Phase 3 study, which should be starting later this year.”

The results from the trial has been published in The New England Journal of Medicine (full text may only be available with a subscription).

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