Mayo Clinic Researchers Successfully Use Anticancer Drug To Fight Fatal Lung Disease, Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis
Mayo Clinic researchers have identified a treatment for the fatal lung disease idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). They found that the anti-cancer drug imatinib mesylate — commercially known as Gleevec and produced by Novartis Pharmaceuticals — can target a gene critical to controlling the disease process. Previously, there had been no treatment and patients usually did not survive beyond three years of diagnosis. Now the treatment is undergoing clinical trials at Mayo Clinic. The Mayo Clinic researchers describe their investigation in laboratory mice in the current edition of the Journal of Clinical Investigation (http://www.jci.org). The gene they identified is known as c-Abl, and it initiates the destructive, abnormal growth of lung tissue. Moreover, the drug Gleevec inhibits c-Abl. Because Gleevec was already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in certain cancers, the researchers were able to speed the Gleevec treatment into human trials.