The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has awarded a grant to researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD) Center to study ways ILD first appears in certain patient groups with autoimmune diseases and to better diagnose and treat it. Interstitial lung disease is a group of diseases that affect the tissues of the lungs instead of the airways, like asthma and emphysema do. It causes lung scarring, is more difficult to diagnose and treat than other kinds of lung diseases, and is often fatal.
The $715,000 K23 clinical research grant will be used to find ways for physicians to more accurately diagnose and manage ILD patients who first present with undifferentiated connective tissue disease. Although 30% to 40% of all ILD patients present with connective tissue disease, there is often a delay in diagnosis because of the nonspecific nature and varied time course in development of autoimmune diseases.
“If patients don’t meet criteria neatly, their illness is often treated as idiopathic, or as having an unknown cause,” says Brent Kinder, MD, director of the ILD Center and UC Health pulmonologist. “This can lead to delayed diagnosis and allows further progression of the illness before appropriate treatment is applied. We hope to discover better ways of identifying specific groups of ILD patients who present with connective tissue diseases, find out why this occurs, and raise awareness for rheumatologists and pulmonologists, whose patients may be at risk for developing ILD.”