Nathaniel Weathington, M.D., Ph.D.
University of Pittsburgh
Testing New Drug Therapies for Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome Using Donor Lungs
The death rate for acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) remains near 30 percent. Bacterial infection and inflammation are major causes and drivers of ARDS. There are currently no medications that can reduce the burden of this lung disease in humans, though many are effective agents found in mouse experiments. We have discovered a new inflammatory pathway involved in ARDS and developed a drug (BC1215) that suppresses inflammation and may decrease lung injury. Our research uses intact human lungs from organ donors that are not appropriate for transplant. We can maintain function in these isolated organs with blood flow and airflow, and cause inflammatory injury with bacterial toxins to test BC1215 in a more applicable human system as a new treatment for ARDS.
Update: We have demonstrated with convincing efficacy that BC1215 can suppress inflammation and improve lung function in human lungs that are injured by bacterial toxins. Work on this project to date has let us better appreciate the biology of lung injury and helped us target inflammatory pathways with new drugs that may one day help reduce the burden of lung disease on patients and their families.