04/11/11 Portland, Ore.
Alan Barker, MD, Professor, Department of Medicine, has co-authored an international study that revealed a drug approved to prevent rejection in organ transplant patients helped treat a rare lung disease in women.
The life-threatening disease has no cure and, until now, no known treatment.
The clinical trial of the drug -- called sirolimus -- was the first randomized, controlled study designed to develop a therapy for the lung disease, lymphangioleiomyomatosis, or LAM.
LAM is a progressive, cystic lung disease that occurs almost exclusively in women. In LAM, smooth muscle cells grow uncontrollably and spread to restricted areas in the body, including the lungs, lymph nodes and vessels and kidneys, limiting the flow of air, blood and immune system fluid, or lymph.
Shortness of breath and recurrent lung collapse are common in patients with LAM; until now, lung transplantation has been the only hope for patients who progress to respiratory failure. LAM affects about five per million people.
The complete OHSU media release is available online.