Affordable nutritional supplement could counter deadly lung disease
Dr. Imre Noth is an expert on pulmonary fibrosis or scarring of the lungs. We don’t know what causes it, but he says it’s a miserable way to go.
"It’s a scarring disease, so the lung gets stiffer and smaller. It’s a lot harder to breathe, and if you can’t breathe, nothing else matters."
Fortunately, he and his colleagues report that in about a quarter of patients with the disease – people who have a certain genetic variant – treatment with a common nutritional supplement – N-acetyl cysteine – is not only effective but affordable.
"The two drugs that are out there right now cost you $100 grand a year each, and N-acetyl cysteine, that’s $35 a month."
The discovery came when computer analysis compared treatment records with patients’ genetic make-up. To confirm that this substance will prevent lung scarring, Noth is now working with doctors at 26 other universities. They recently won a $22 million grant from the National Institutes of Health and hope to have findings by 2026.