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U researchers get $8.4 million grant to study deadly lung disease

Researchers at the Medical School’s Center for Lung Science and Health received an $8.4 million grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health to study a deadly chronic lung disease called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or IPF.

IPF affects one out of every 10,000 people in the United States. Without a lung transplant, patients have a typical life expectancy of only three to five years after diagnosis.

The new grant will allow University researchers to analyze the mechanisms behind this fatal disease.

The project’s principal investigator, Craig Henke, M.D., a professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine, recently published related findings in the Journal of Experimental Medicine. He found that a specific defect in cells known as fibroblasts, which can cause scarring of the lung tissue, is involved in the development of IPF.

Searching for new IPF treatments or a possible cure, Henke and a team of researchers from several University of Minnesota departments, as well as pathology researchers at the University of Michigan, are now investigating how fibroblasts develop.

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