Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
(IPF) is marked by aberrant scarring of the lung tissue. IPF has multiple causes, including exposure to irritants
such as asbestos and silica particles.
In such cases a cytokines such as TGF-beta are known to induce
fibrosis. The current invention
identifies events resulting from TGF-beta signaling that act as molecular
markers of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, as well as a mechanism to inhibit
progression of the disease. This invention provides diagnostic markers as well
as therapeutic targets for IPF.
technology provides both ways to detect and monitor the progression of IPF as
well as a potential mechanism to reverse the progression of the disease. The molecular diagnostics in this case
involve simple techniques such as western blot, ELISA, or real time
PCR. Levels of protein or mRNA markers can be
compared to both non affected healthy controls, and known IPF sufferers to
identify not only patients positive for the disease, but those that may be in
very early stages. This type of diagnosis up until this point has been
impossible and is extremely desirable considering that patients who are
diagnosed with IPF using current techniques die on average 5 years later. Finally, because there is no cure or
treatment currently, a possible mechanism to reduce or reverse scar tissue
production is highly desirable.