"It seems like this approach is an interesting way to provide these patients with improvement in dyspnea [shortness of breath] and quality of life, which hasn't been seen in patients with advanced idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis," Zisman said.
However, he said, people with the disease should not rush out to try sildenafil. "These findings offer a ray of hope to treat these patients," Zisman said. "We just have to fine-tune it."
Mishka Michon, chief executive of the Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis, said that "although the sildenafil trial didn't meet its primary endpoint, we're encouraged by the fact that there was a demonstration of symptomatic relief for some patients."
Because there are no current therapies that offer people with this disease a better quality of life, he said, "this news is particularly meaningful for our patients who experience incredibly difficult and unrelenting symptoms."
Zisman theorized that testing sildenafil on people with earlier stages of the disease might improve results. Higher doses might also improve the response, he said.
"This opens many doors to try exploring different approaches to treat these patients," Zisman said.
In the long run, he said, the goal in treating the disease may be to turn it into a chronic but livable condition, Zisman said. Rather than concentrating on finding ways to stop its progression, targeting the blood vessels in the lungs could lead to many other possibilities for treatment, he noted.
"In the future, we are going to see our patients treated like patients with cancer -- that is, several drugs to target different mechanisms of the disease," Zisman said. "We are going to end up treating these patients with a number of agents that would not only make a difference in quality of life and dyspnea, but also in func
All rights reserved