Bolstered by the support of more than $30 million, researchers at the MGH are now teaming up with colleagues at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the German pharmaceutical company Bayer AG to study new drug options for chronic lung diseases.
The joint Pulmonary Drug Discovery laboratory launched late last month boasts not only the financial investment from Bayer, but the brain power from all three organizations, with a goal of advancing treatments for patients in the next five years.
One leader of the new lab is Benjamin Medoff, MD, chief of the MGH Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine. Medoff says the new lab will focus primarily on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), an inflammatory illness that obstructs airflow from the lungs and affects about 65 million people worldwide. Another area of interest is idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a condition for which a definitive cause often cannot be found. IPF causes progressive scarring of the lung tissue and leaves many patients with a life expectancy of less than five years.
“I’ve seen the suffering these diseases cause in my patients, and all too frequently there is very little I can do to relieve their symptoms or slow the pace of their disease,” says Medoff. “Anything that can bring new therapeutics into the clinic will be of huge benefit. This collaboration capitalizes on our scientific strengths, which will hopefully lead us to the cutting edge of new treatments.”
The new lab will employ about 20 scientists and will be located in Boston’s Longwood Medical Area.