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Researchers are developing and testing a variety of new ways to treat IPF. These approaches target the various steps in the disease process. Therapies under investigation include:

  • Antifibrotic or antifibrogenic agents (such as interferon and certain blood-pressure-lowering medications) to suppress the scarring process

  • Antioxidants (such as N-acetylcysteine and glutathione) to prevent damage to lung tissue

  • Monoclonal antibodies to inhibit "bad" cytokines (protein growth factors that activate inflammation)

A promising new approach to treatment involves the cytokine interferon gamma-1b. An advanced clinical trial was recently completed by InterMune, Inc. (www.intermune.com) to confirm interferon gamma-1b's effectiveness in slowing or reversing the scarring associated with IPF and in potentially improving lung function and patient survival. The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase III study of 200 micrograms of interferon gamma-1b administered subcutaneously three times per week was conducted in 330 IPF patients at 58 centers in the United States, Europe and South Africa. The results continued to support a potential survival benefit for IPF patients.

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