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Blood test may identify severity of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis

Category: General Health

Researchers from the University of Pittsburg School of Medicine have reportedly found that a simple blood test may be able to predict whether patients with the lung-scarring disease known as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) will become even more ill.

IPF is a life-threatening condition that gradually scars a patient's lung tissue, making it difficult for them to breathe. The median survival rate for people afflicted with the condition is three years after diagnosis.

In the study, Steven Duncan, associate professor in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine at the university, and his colleagues collected blood samples from 32 healthy participants and 89 IPF patients with varying grades of the disease.

Researchers examined each respondent's CD4 T immune cells, which normally respond to infectious threats and carry a protein called CD28.

In patients whose condition was relatively stable, the CD4 T cells still bore CD28, but as the disease progressed, the cells lost their protein marker and became abnormally "revved up." By developing a blood test that identifies the level of CD28, researchers feel that they can identify the severity of the disease in each patient.

"If we knew who was in the gravest danger from this illness, we could direct them to lung transplantation or experimental therapy immediately," said Duncan. "Also, we could possibly avoid prescribing grueling treatments for people whose disease is fairly stable."

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