BWH Center for LAM Research and Clinical Care awarded $1 million grant from Department of Defense

February 07, 2012

BOSTON, MA--The Center for LAM Research and Clinical Care at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) has been awarded a $1 million plus, four-year grant from the U.S. Department of Defense Office of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs to fund their work on lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM). This work will be performed in partnership with the Massachusetts General Hospital and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, Bethesda, Md.

LAM is a rare lung disease that affects women almost exclusively. In LAM, the normal lung tissue is progressively destroyed. LAM can also occur in women with a genetic syndrome called tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC), which causes tumors in different parts of the body, such as the skin, brain and kidneys.

LAM usually affects healthy, non-smoking, young women, according to Elizabeth Henske, MD, director of the Center for LAM Research and Clinical Care. Symptoms, such as shortness of breath, often begin in the late 20s, and can worsen with pregnancy. LAM can lead to lung collapse, oxygen dependency, the need for lung transplantation, and even death in young adulthood.

The center will use the funds to conduct a phase I clinical trial to determine the safety of a combination of two drugs to treat patients with LAM. The drugs that will be tested are hydroxychloroquine and sirolimus. Patients will be given different doses of the medications to find out which are deemed safe and efficacious. In addition to determining safety, the researchers will evaluate effects of the drug combo on patients' lung function, exercise capacity, kidney tumor size and quality of life.

Independently, hydroxychloroquine and sirolimus treat different conditions. Sirolimus is an immunosuppression drug that is given after organ transplantation, while hydroxychloroquine is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

"This will be the first time that this drug combination has been tested in women with LAM," said Henske. "We will learn whether the combination of [these] two drugs is safe in women with LAM. In our work in the laboratory, we have seen that this combination of drugs is more effective than either drug alone in models of LAM."
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Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) is a 793-bed nonprofit teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School and a founding member of Partners HealthCare, an integrated health care delivery network. BWH is the home of the Carl J. and Ruth Shapiro Cardiovascular Center, the most advanced center of its kind. BWH is committed to excellence in patient care with expertise in virtually every specialty of medicine and surgery. The BWH medical preeminence dates back to 1832, and today that rich history in clinical care is coupled with its national leadership in quality improvement and patient safety initiatives and its dedication to educating and training the next generation of health care professionals. Through investigation and discovery conducted at its Biomedical Research Institute (BRI), www.brighamandwomens.org/research, BWH is an international leader in basic, clinical and translational research on human diseases, involving more than 900 physician-investigators and renowned biomedical scientists and faculty supported by more than $537 M in funding. BWH is also home to major landmark epidemiologic population studies, including the Nurses' and Physicians' Health Studies and the Women's Health Initiative. For more information about BWH, please visit www.brighamandwomens.org.

Brigham and Women's Hospital

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