SCIENTISTS may have discovered the cause of a progressive lung disease whose symptoms include a shortness of breath and a chronic dry cough.
Few effective therapies are currently available for IPF, which affects an estimated 700 people in Ireland.
Despite extensive investigation, the underlying causes remain unknown, although the disease has been linked with exposure to cigarette smoke, gases, chemicals and dust. The new study discovered the disease may be caused by an increase in the level of interleukin-25, a type of protein found in the lungs.
It was also found that a type of white blood cell called the type 2 innate lymphoid cell, discovered in an earlier study by the same scientists, can also cause a scarring of the lungs. The research was funded by Science Foundation Ireland and the National Children's Research Centre.