Exploring the cause of chronic lung transplant rejection, in a quest to stop it

SCIENCE DAILY | Michigan Medicine

For patients affected by lung diseases such as pulmonary fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis and others, cures for their diseases are incredibly rare, if not nonexistent.


"We really have no option, but to offer them a lung transplantation," says Vibha Lama, M.D., a professor of internal medicine and associate chief of basic and translational research at Michigan Medicine's Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine.

"Survival of lung transplantation is worse than all other solid organ transplants," she says. "The five-year survival rate is only 50 percent, and the 10-year survival rate is as low as 20 percent. For me to tell my patient that this second chance at life comes with this critical limitation is incredibly hard."

Lama explains that in many lung transplant patients, the body will chronically reject the new lung.

"Small airways of the transplanted lung, or graft, begin scarring and slowly become completely scarred and close up. This process is called bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS)," she says. "The patient will begin to have shortness of breath again, like they did before the transplant, and this scarring can lead to graft problems and ultimately death in some patients. Right now we have nothing to prevent or stop this scarring process once it begins." Continue reading



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