Pulmonary fibrosis (PF) affects 10,000 new patients each year in the UK, but there is still no cure. We believe that platelets may play a role in the development of PF. Platelets are the very small cells that circulate in the blood and stick together to form a blood clot if the blood vessel is damaged. Blood clots are important to prevent bleeding, but blood clots may also cut off the blood supply to essential areas like the heart (a heart attack) or brain (a stroke), which is bad.
We know that patients with PF are more likely, than other people, to develop diseases in which platelets are too sticky, such as heart disease. We also know that PF is common in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and systemic sclerosis (or scleroderma) that have sticky platelets. This suggests that platelets may play a role in PF.
We plan to study patients with PF to see if their platelets are more sticky and whether the platelets are getting stuck in their lungs. If we do find platelets sticking in the lungs, this suggests that platelets may cause PF and may help us find new treatments for this disease.
£10K from the UCLH Charity Bike Ride 2011 has been donated towards this research study.