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Young Women Beware Of LAM

Researchers have identified a rare deadly lung disease, which targets only young women.// It is believed to be triggered during pregnancy and progresses rapidly thereafter. This seems to be a recent disease as it was not on records a decade ago. This disease is called Lymphangioleimyomatosis (LAM).

The disease targets only women, striking them down during their childbearing years and often results in death within ten years.

Vera Krymskaya, PhD, Research Associate Professor of Medicine in the Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Division at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, has dedicated the last several years of her career to combating Lymphangioleimyomatosis (LAM). The disease causes extensive, abnormal smooth muscle-like cell proliferation, which invades and destroys the tissues of the lung by forming cysts, eventually obstructing the flow of air and leading to lung collapse and failure.

Solving the puzzle… Globally, researchers tackled the first step, finding out what caused the cell proliferation and identifying the mutating gene that was responsible. Next, Krymskaya’s lab at the University of Pennsylvania was responsible for the breakthrough step of discovering the function of the gene that caused the cell malfunction, paving the way for a potential treatment utilizing a medication to inhibit abnormal growth. This treatment is now in a clinical trial.

As many as 250,000 women may be suffering from LAM, but many are misdiagnosed with asthma or emphysema or remain undiagnosed. Krymskaya explains "the key to combating this disease is to educate physicians to know how to diagnose LAM and treat it in its earliest stages before the damage to the lung is done and a transplant is needed. A biopsy and a high resolution CT scan, not just an X-ray, are needed to detect LAM."

Sue Byrnes - who founded The LAM Foundation, an international non-profit organization focused on research, after her daug
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