Using Biomarkers to Work to Decode PF


Biomarkers—molecules that reveal whether a biologic process is happening inside a cell—can be useful tools in understanding, treating, or even preventing disease. Biomarkers can potentially identify people who:

  • Have a specific disease.
  • Are at risk of developing a disease.
  • Might have better or worse disease outcomes.
  • Can receive a treatment safely.
  • Might respond better to one treatment than another.

In order to harness the power of biomarkers for the chronic, fatal lung disease pulmonary fibrosis, scientists must first:

  • Identify the biomarker.
  • Develop a test, or assay, that reliably indicates the presence, absence or change in amount of a biomarker.
  • Correlate the biomarker with a consistent outcome in the cell.
  • Validate that assay by testing it in large, multicenter studies including diverse groups of patient groups.
Researchers have identified dozens of blood proteins that could be potential biomarkers in pulmonary fibrosis, but studying each one separately is too resource intensive. Members of PROLIFIC have identified 12 promising potential biomarkers to explore collaboratively. 


Impacts of Damage on Lung Tissue

cross-section diagram of a lung
Blood clots can accompany the development of IPF
Epithelial Damage
Epithelial Damage
Epithelial cells lining the air sacs of the lungs lose their permeable qualities causing the blockage of air and blood into the lungs
Scar tissue causes excessive stiffness in the lungs
When the lungs' air sacs or airways become inflamed for a long period, lung function can decline

Magnified view of lung tissue revealing the presence of scleroderma lung disease. Click on a type of cell damage to learn more about the biomarkers that PROLIFIC is studying. Reproduced with permission of the © ERS 2021: European Respiratory Review 22 (127) 6-19; DOI: 10.1183/09059180.00005512 Published 28 February 2013.