Actress Anjelica Huston's Words Greet Scientists As They Ponder Deadly Lung
Disease Affecting Horses, Dogs, Cats, Humans
Scientists to Convene in Louisville, KY on 'Fibrosis Across Species' April
LOUISVILLE, Ky., April 24, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Actress Anjelica Huston's
words will greet researchers from around the globe when they meet later this
week to better understand Pulmonary Fibrosis (PF). The lung disease has no FDA
approved treatments and is killing horses, including thoroughbred horses, and
other domestic animals, just as it's claiming an increasing number of human
lives. The scientists are hoping the animals will hold a key to finding
desperately needed treatments faster for both.
Huston, a lifetime horse enthusiast and advocate, wrote a passionate letter
encouraging the work at this breakthrough meeting and challenging scientists
to move the field of PF research forward.
"I am very intrigued and interested in the comparative work you are doing to
bridge this gap between horses, other domestic animals and humans with
pulmonary fibrosis, a disease that affects and claims lives without lifesaving
treatment options," Huston wrote. "Thank you for your dedication to work that
will help to better understand and ultimately eradicate fibrosis across
species. I hope this meeting will lead you to the breakthroughs you need to
cure this devastating disease and will lead to the adoption of a new
comparative approach that will produce progress and save lives in so many
Human lung disease researchers and veterinarians will meet for the "Fibrosis
Across Species" workshop being convened by the Westie Foundation of America
(WFA) and hosted by the University of Louisville's Medical Center and its
Equine Center April 27-29 at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, KY just days prior
to the running of the world famous Kentucky Derby.
This unusual combination of human and veterinary scientists is tasked with
creating a roadmap for comparative research in PF. Comparative research - or
research that compares human disease to similar diseases in animals - has been
used successfully in the treatment of cancer and, in fact, there is a
comparative research division at the National Cancer Institute.
Pulmonary Fibrosis (PF) is a little known lung disease among most of the
public, yet the disease claims as many human lives each year as breast cancer.
In addition to horses, the disease is also known to affect cats, and dogs,
especially terrier breeds of dog like the West Highland White Terrier (WHWT).
There are no approved drugs for the disease in the United States, though a
drug has been approved in Japan, the European Union and Canada.
"We are concerned about the growing incidence and prevalence of Pulmonary
Fibrosis and realize that research done the customary way has limitations,"
said Jesse Roman, M.D., a human PF researcher and Chair of Medicine at the
University of Louisville and a leader of the meeting. "Studying animals, in
particular horses and dogs, may allow us to better understand the underlying
causes of this lung disease and how to best tackle finding life-saving
treatments for all affected species."
"We are pleased to convene this stellar team of scientists who will review and
compare fibrotic disease in animals and humans and pave the way for major
discovery," said Bebe Pinter, CEO of the Westie Foundation of America.
The "Fibrosis Across Species" meeting will build on the success of a 2007
meeting, also convened by the WFA,that brought together human and veterinary
scientists to discuss similarities between the WHWT and human forms of PF. The
scientific paper from the 2007 meeting was published in the Annals of the
American Thoracic Society [to view the abstract, visit:
The paper identifies similarities across species and makes strong suggestions
for a path forward. One of the experts' recommendations is the convening of a
meeting that fits the mold of the Fibrosis Across Species meeting.
Many of the key researchers in that meeting will be leading the Louisville
meeting along with key advocacy organizations, along with the WFA.
Together with Pinter, Dr. Roman is working with other key scientists and PF
experts to convene the meeting that include Kevin Brown, M.D. and Amy Olson,
M.D., of National Jewish Health in Denver; Dennis E. Doherty, M.D., of the
University of Kentucky Medical Center and the Lexington Veteran's
Administration hospital; Patricia Olson, D.V.M., Ph.D.; Andrew M. Tager, M.D.,
of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Kay McGuire,
D.V.M., vice president, health of the Westie Foundation of America's Board of
Directors; Tim Capps, of the University of Louisville's Equine Division; Kurt
Williams, D.V.M., of Michigan State; Kentucky-based advocate Angie Wingfield,
Teresa Barnes, a PF advocate who developed the FAS meeting, vice president of
the Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis and member of the Westie Foundation of
America Board of Directors and advocate Dolly Kervitsky, RCP,CCRC of the
Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation.
Sponsors for the meeting include: InterMune, Inc., Boehringer-Ingelheim
Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Biogen Idec, Inc., Genentech, Inc., The Coalition for
Pulmonary Fibrosis, The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, The Hermansky Pudlak
Syndrome Network, The West Highland White Terrier Club of America, The West
Highland White Terrier Club of Southeast Texas, Suburbia North Animal Hospital
in Houston, Skyehigh Westies, The Shamrock Westie Family and individual donors
including Westie Foundation of America Past President Wayne Kompare and
For a full agenda for the meeting and to learn more, please visit
CONTACT: Teresa Barnes
for Fibrosis Across Species
and Westie Foundation of America
Fibrosis Across Species logo
Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis logo
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