Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Event Celebrates Hope for Pulmonary Fibrosis

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Event Celebrates Hope for Pulmonary Fibrosis

Article excerpt

vl website/spellings correct below Event is Saturday, Aug. 9 cq'dDespite claiming an estimated 40,000 lives annually - roughly the same number as breast cancer or prostate cancer - pulmonary fibrosis remains one of the least known covert killers in the country.

"Survivors of breast cancer come together in droves to raise awareness," said Teresa Barnes, vice president of patient outreach and program support for the Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis, based in Culver City, Calif. "Pulmonary fibrosis leaves no survivors."

Pulmonary fibrosis causes progressive lung scarring and eventually suffocation.

Hope is on the horizon. The first treatment options available, InterMune's pirfenidone and Boehringer Ingelheim's nintedanib, are being evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and may become available as early as this fall.

The possible breakthrough will be celebrated with the fourth annual Violet Rippy 5K Walk/Run this Saturday on the North Shore. Tami Rippy of Mars, the event organizer, has worked with Simmons Center for Interstitial Lung Disease at UPMC and the Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis to promote the event named for her mother, who died from the condition in March 2009.

"Knowing she was suffering, and literally suffocating, that there was no treatment, no idea where it came from or why it happened makes it devastating," said Ms. Rippy. "People assume my mom got it because she did this or that or smoked, but she was healthy all these years."

The terminal diagnosis often disguises itself in generic symptoms, such as dry cough and fatigue. It typically affects people over 50 but does not discriminate, debilitating runners and smokers alike. The overwhelming majority of cases are idiopathic, meaning no known cause is ever identified and the condition is known as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis or IPF.

According to the coalition, pulmonary fibrosis patients may have an exaggerated or uncontrolled healing response that, over time, produces excessive fibrous scar tissue - or fibrosis - in the lungs. …

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