Research provides promising evidence of new drug therapies in lethal lung disease

Several promising new treatments may prolong lives as well as improve the quality of life for people living with pulmonary arterial hypertension. Research showing benefits of these novel drug therapies for lethal lung disease will be discussed today at the 26th Annual Meeting and Scientific Sessions of the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation (ISHLT).

Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), high blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries in the lungs, is a life-threatening disease. Therapeutic options have, until recently, been limited and many patients with PAH faced lung transplantation. In recent years, research has identified a number of novel drug therapies that have shown to improve both quality and quantity of life in patients with this very serious illness.

During the ISHLT Meeting, researchers will discuss the results of new trial evidence of drugs including the endothelin antagonists Sitaxentan and Bosentan, prostenoids including Trepostenil and Prostacyclin, and Viagraâ (sildenafil citrate), marketed as RevatioTM for PAH, used as single agents and in combination.

PAH is caused when the smaller blood vessels in the lungs become more resistant to blood flow forcing the right ventricle of the heart to work harder to pump enough blood through the lungs. For example, Revatio (Viagra) helps patients by causing the pulmonary arteries to dilate which lessens the lungs resistance to blood flow and reduces the workload of the heart.

"It is an extremely exciting time for physicians involved in the care of patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension because of the explosion of novel drugs within the last few years," commented Paul A. Corris, Professor of Thoracic Medicine at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK and Director, North of England Pulmonary Vascular Service. "Although these drugs cannot yet be considered a cure for pulmonary arterial hypertension, results of medical therapy are extremely encouraging for patients who have this serious disease and there is good evidence to show that patients who otherwise would have required urgent listing for lung transplantation may be treated satisfactorily in the interim with these drugs."

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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