Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF), the most common form of pulmonary fibrosis, is a devastating, terminal lung condition, which affects over 30,000 people in the UK. . There is no cure and it has no known cause.
Each year around 6,000 people die from IPF and the average life expectancy from diagnosis is only three years. Compared with diseases of similar prognosis, IPF receives little attention and limited research funding. Action for Pulmonary Fibrosis is a leading funder of research into this life shattering disease.
The fellowships are named after APF’s founding chair of trustees – Mike Bray, who passed away in 2017 from IPF. They have been awarded to two researchers – Dr Richard Allen of the University of Leicester and Dr Philip Molyneaux of Imperial College London.
Left to right: Dr Philip Molyneaux and Dr Richard Allen
Dr Richard Allen will investigate the genetic causes of IPF and Dr Philip Molyneaux the impact of lung bacteria on the disease and the potential use of antibiotics. The studies are expected to lead to the development of new treatments.
The research will cost a total of £580,000, funded entirely from the generous donations and money raised by supporters of APF. The projects will run for three years.
APF Chair, Steve Jones said: “IPF is a devastating and incurable disease. The two projects seek to understand different aspects of the disease and we hope they will each open up new avenues for treatment. As a charity we work hard to increase awareness of the disease and encourage greater investment in finding effective treatments and, ultimately, a cure. This research would not have been possible without the commitment and generosity of individual fundraisers and those who have donated in memory of a loved one, often at a very difficult time in their own lives. We are immensely grateful to them.”
Details on the each research project are as follows:
Dr Philip Molyneaux: ‘Microbiome, Metabolism and Macrolides in IPF’
In IPF there are changes in the number and types of bacteria in the lungs, but we don’t understand why they are there or what they are doing. Dr Molyneaux’s research will aim to answer these questions, looking at how bacteria interact with cells in the lungs and what changes happen following antibiotics. Understanding this may allow us to identify new treatments or specific groups of patients with IPF who will benefit from existing therapies
Dr Philip Molyneaux, said: “It’s fantastic to be able to undertake research, supported by Action for Pulmonary Fibrosis, a patient-driven charity. I look forward to the next few years of exciting research ahead.”
Dr Richard Allen: ‘Investigating the genetics of disease progression and classifying disease subtypes for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis’
This project will compare the DNA of individuals with IPF to identify the genes that explain why some people experience very severe disease whereas others have milder symptoms. This will improve our understanding of IPF and hopefully lead to the development of new treatments which are better targeted to the individuals who are most likely to benefit from them.
Dr Richard Allen, said: “I am so excited to be given this chance to extend my work on the genetics of IPF which will help guide the development of new treatments for this devastating disease. I would like to thank Action for Pulmonary Fibrosis for giving me this incredible opportunity.”