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Stories from October, 2013

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Breathing Matters’ New Lawrence Matz Clinical Research Fellow

We are delighted to announce that Dr Theresia Mikolasch has been appointed to the post of Lawrence Matz Clinical Research Fellow.

This is such an important appointment.   Our vision is to change the pathway of patients with lung fibrosis.  Many different diseases cause pulmonary fibrosis (PF) and they all have different treatments. We want to find patients early, and diagnose them more accurately so that we can give them the right treatments and avoid using unhelpful medicines that may cause harm.  We wouldn’t treat cancer without a biopsy and we feel that the same should apply to our PF patients.   However, open lung biopsies are painful, require a 3 day stay in hospital and may be dangerous.  For these reasons, many physicians choose to rely on information form CT scans and bronchoscopies to make a diagnosis.

But how will we ever learn anything more about this awful disease?   We are hoping to develop a programme of early lung biopsy in ALL patients with PF with a novel and less invasive approach using our cryoprobe. Cryoscopic biopsy is performed as a day case under a deep sedation through a bronchoscope. We believe that patients will be safer, will suffer none of the long term sequelae (such as pain in the chest wall) of a surgical biopsy.  Dr Mikolasch’s appointment will allow us to get cryoscopic biopsies up and running at UCLH, and we will be the first hospital in theUKto do this for PF.

We can then perform a proper study to compare the results of surgical versus cryoscopic lung biopsies. If we show that the cryoprobe is safe and we can get as much information from the samples as we do from the surgical biopsy, then we will be all set to change the way patients with PF are looked after.  We will be able to ensure that each patient will have a more accurate diagnosis so that we can give them the full facts on their treatment and disease.  We will also have many more samples of PF lung available from many different patients to understand why the disease happens and how we can prevent it much earlier.  

Dr Theresia Mikolasch says, “I have taken time out of my respiratory higher training programme inCambridgeto join the prestigious respiratory research team at UCL.  This post has only been made possible by all your generous donations to Breathing Matters!”

Lawrence Matz was one of the co-founders of Breathing Matters who sadly died in August 2011 whilst awaiting a lung transplant for PF.  This post has been made possible through generous donations by his family and friends.

WE DO STILL NEED YOUR HELP!  Breathing Matters has been able to fund Dr Mikolasch’s research for one year only.  She has already made great leaps, but we really need to fund her for another two to three years to get meaningful results from her work.  If you would like to help fund her research, please email Donna Basire at breathingmatters@ucl.ac.uk