About LEARN: Activities & Accomplishments

LEARN Members Are Leading the Fight Against Pulmonary Fibrosis

Lung with end-stage pulmonary fibrosis at autopsy.

The University of Texas Health Sciences Center at Houston, the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in San Antonio have teamed up with 36 other prestigious health centers across the United States to combat a life threatening lung disease called pulmonary fibrosis. As a part of the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation's Care Center Network (CCN), these three members of the LEARN community will use LEARN, and other interconnected networks, to collaborate with colleagues across the country and share access to critical resources needed by patients, caregivers, physicians and scientists.

Pulmonary fibrous is a scarring of the lungs that worsens over time and may be caused by over 200 different lung diseases. These interstitial lung diseases affect the lung tissue itself rather than just the airways of the lung like asthma and bronchitis. Historically, pulmonary fibrous has been a fatal illness and lung transplants have been the only treatment option to extend the life expectancy of patients.

Healthcare professionals at CCN sites have extensive experience in the treatment of pulmonary fibrosis and are conducting groundbreaking research to improve the care and quality of life of patients with this disease. By collaborating in a multidisciplinary way across sites in the network, significant advancements are being made in patient care and in medical research.

Participating sites have developed a patient registry that uses standards for data collection procedures and controls to ensure that the data is accurate and that meaningful results can be obtained when the data is queried. The registry is an electronic database of anonymous patient information, from participating CCN sites, that is independently managed by a data coordinating center and accessible by all sites participating in the CCN. Data from the registry is used by healthcare professionals to better understand the disease and develop more effective individualized patient care strategies and therapies.

In large part, as a result of the collaborative efforts of the CCN and the related patient registry, we have a much better understanding of the disease and new protocols have been developed that are making a difference in people's lives. Research has led to the development of newly approved drugs that offer the possibility of effective treatment for the first time and other medications are under development that hold great promise. In addition, advances in high resolution chest imaging that are shared among CCN sites using LEARN and other advanced networks, have made it possible to make a diagnosis without a biopsy. By participating in the CCN, Texas pulmonary fibrosis experts are improving patient care protocols and are making strategically important research contributions to find cures for this deadly disease.