GAINESVILLE – Researchers think they've found the first effective therapy for women suffering from a rare and often fatal lung disease. It's a drug that's normally used for organ transplant patients. [audio:http://eunalhee.com/wp-content/uploads/Lhee_LAM.mp3|titles=LAM|artists=Lhee]
The lung disease is called Lymphangioleiomyomatosis -- LAM for short. It's similar to a slow-growing cancer.
LAM affects only women, but scientists aren’t sure why. They used to treat it with hormone therapy or by removing the patients' ovaries. But many of the women still died.
Researchers decided to treat LAM with the drug rapamycin - it's usually used to keep transplant patients from rejecting their new organs. Dr. Mark Brantly of the University of Florida co-authored the study. He said the drug stopped and even reversed the progression of LAM in study participants.
"That’s a dream for me to be able to take a disease, crack it… develop a therapy so that, you know, we can actually make people better," Brantly said.
He said the next step is to expand the study and see if the drug helps LAM patients live longer.
The findings were published this month in The New England Journal of Medicine. [HealthyState.org | FPR Spot]