Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation Conference to Drive New Research

Written by medmonthly on January 6, 2012 in Research and technology

In order to advance education and awareness of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IFP) in the medical and patient communities, the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF) recently hosted a national scientific conference, The IPF Summit: From Bench to Bedside in Chicago Dec. 1 – 3, 2011.

The Summit was established to meet the growing need to communicate the most up to date information on IPF. The conference featured a variety of presentations from distinguished experts and offered a unique continuing medical education (CME) curriculum for an audience of 250 physicians, researchers and allied health professionals. The Summit also hosted a one-day patient, family and caregiver symposium that was attended by more than 200 individuals.

“As a growing national organization, the success of the Summit only reinforces our commitment to becoming a leading provider of programs and services that have a positive impact on IPF patients, their families and the medical professionals who treat them.” said Daniel M. Rose, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of the PFF.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), pulmonary fibrosis (PF) is a condition that causes the lung tissue becomes thickened, stiff and scarred. As the lung tissue becomes more damaged, the lungs lose their ability to transfer oxygen. As a result, the brain and other organs may not receive adequately oxygenated blood. In some cases, doctors can determine the cause of the fibrosis, but in many individuals, there is not a known cause. When there is no known etiology for the fibrosis (and certain pathologic criteria are met) the disease is called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. IPF affects approximately 200,000 Americans and an estimated 40,000 Americans die from the disease each year.

“Despite two decades of progress in understanding IPF, the diagnosis and management of this disease remains challenging. It is critically important that we provide innovative CME programs for IPF as part of our collective efforts to help these patients,” says Kevin Brown, MD, Faculty Chairman for the IPF Summit and Vice Chair of the Department of Medicine and Professor of Medicine at National Jewish Health (Denver, Colo.).

Managing IPF patients has long been a challenge for the medical community. Proper diagnosis involves the integration of clinical, radiographic, and pathologic information. In addition, despite a recent consensus statement from the American Thoracic Society (ATS) and European Respiratory Society (ERS), which recommends using an iterative diagnostic approach involving clinical and diagnostic information, physician surveys have found that many individuals providing care to patients with IPF are not familiar with the new guidelines, and that patients are often initially misdiagnosed.

A longstanding need for the IPF Summit with a CME program is further reinforced by the following facts:

  • Pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic treatments for IPF are rapidly evolving with multiple clinical trials in progress.
  • Basic science research and understanding of IPF has substantially increased with a significant amount of new information available.
  • Recent genetic and blood biomarker research may have significant diagnostic, prognostic and ultimately therapeutic benefit.

To meet the complex educational needs of those who treat this difficult and complex disease, the IPF Summit offered participants an exceptional curriculum designed to cover many aspects of IPF. The conference included symposia that discussed:

Current research on the pathophysiology of IPF

  • Genetic and peripheral blood biomarkers in IPF
  • New and evolving therapies and regulatory issues
  • A systematic approach to accurately diagnosing IPF
  • Evidence-based treatments in the management of IPF
  • Lifestyle management strategies to improve functional status
  • Development of a comprehensive approach to the management of patients with IPF
  • Indications and results for lung transplantation in IPF

“The ultimate goal of the Summit was to foster a collaborative environment of information sharing, so we can accelerate the process of identifying new approaches to treat, and ultimately find a cure for this devastating disease,” says Dr. Brown.

The Summit was hosted in accordance with the Essential Areas and Policies of the ACCME through the sponsorship of National Jewish Health. All scientific sessions, as well as the patient symposia, will be available for viewing online at the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation’s website, www.pulmonaryfibrosis.org in early 2012. The Summit continues a year of progress for the PFF. Earlier in the year the Foundation announced the establishment of its Research Fund to Cure PF, with $200,000 in new research awards to be given in 2012. Further details on the Fund, including investigator eligibility and application deadlines, are available on the Foundation website.

“With our funding of innovative medical education programs, and a renewed commitment to directly funding PF research, we hope to have a positive impact on improving future patient care and empowering the research community to identify new treatments for IPF,” says Dr. Rose.

Plans are already underway for the 2013 IPF Summit, scheduled for Dec. 5 – 7, 2013. For more information on the 2013 Summit, please visit www.ipfsummit.org The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation also offers patient education materials, patient support services and other resources for patients, caregivers and physicians. To learn more about the programs and services of the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation please visit www.pulmonaryfibrosis.org or call 888-733-6741.