As the season’s festivities are upon us, I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on another remarkable year for Breathing Matters. As we reach our 8th year, many of the seeds that we planted in 2011 are bearing fruit.
Our cryoscopic lung biopsy service, allowing us to do relatively non-invasive lung biopsies, continues to flourish and has allowed many of our patients to have a biopsy taken, but avoid the 3 day hospital stay and side-effects of a surgical lung biopsy, by having it all done by ‘key hole’.
We have finally, after many different approaches, shown a role for platelets and blood clotting in pulmonary fibrosis and have some very exciting data that we are submitting for publication in 2019, fingers crossed. We have gone on to show that anti-coagulation may have beneficial effects in patients with IPF and we hoping to take this into a feasibility study in 2019. It will take some years before this has the widespread clinical impact that we hope as there are many hurdles still to negotiate, but I am confident that Breathing Matters will finally answer the question ‘should patients with pulmonary fibrosis be anti-coagulated routinely’.
However, our major achievement in 2018 was the publication of our study of FDG-PET scans in IPF patients, followed for 10 years. In this tour-de-force that over 150 of our patients took part in, we showed that FDG-PET scans can predict how well individual patients do over time and are able to refine the current scoring systems based on age and lung function. This work has led on to the major pre-occupation of the last few months which has been the submission of a funding request for £400,000 to the National Institute of Health Research to see if FDG-PET can predict which patients should be treated with drug, nintedanib or pifenidone or neither, and whether using the information from PET scans can improve the quality and length of patients’ lives – which is our ultimate goal.
I would like to thank you all for your support over the year in what has been an uncertain and challenging time for many of you. With your support, Breathing Matters has continued to excel by focusing on our core mission.
Professor Jo Porter, Medical Director of Breathing Matters and Clinical Lead of Interstitial Lung Diseases.