The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation awarded nearly $4 million among seven research grants focused on Chronic Lung Allograft Dysfunction (CLAD), a widespread post-transplant complication related to organ rejection about which little is known. The funding was awarded through the Foundation's Lung Transplant Initiative, a comprehensive effort to maximize the opportunity for transplant as a life-sustaining therapy and extend post-transplant survival for people with CF.
“The Foundation is committed to ensuring that all people with CF receive the best possible treatments and care, including individuals who undergo lung transplantation,” said the Foundation's Senior Director of Clinical Affairs Albert Faro, MD. “Despite recent improvements, post-transplant outcomes vary widely among people with CF, and the factors that drive those results are not well understood. Continued dedication and research are needed to make meaningful progress on the challenges related to this complex procedure. These awards will drive advances that will help enable people with CF to live full and healthy lives post-transplant.”
Lung transplantation remains a vital treatment option for individuals with CF who have advanced lung disease, and approximately 250 people with CF received a transplant in 2017. The median life expectancy for a person with CF after a lung transplant is 9.5 years.
These awards build on the Foundation's significant commitment to improve transplant outcomes through the Lung Transplant Initiative, currently a $23.5 million, multi-year effort. The comprehensive program seeks to enhance delivery of lung transplant clinical care, increase understanding of post-transplant complications, help advance new therapies for lung transplantation through clinical trials, optimize organ allocation for people with CF, and improve transplant-related support for the CF community.
The Foundation previously awarded $2.7 million to nine research projects in lung transplantation as part of the initiative. It also has convened experts in CF and lung transplants to start working on clinical guidelines and participate in learning collaboratives to improve care.
CLAD was identified as a key area of focus within the initiative because about 50 percent of all lung transplant recipients are diagnosed with CLAD within five years, and very little is known about its cause. The research will address questions about the underlying mechanisms that lead to CLAD, uncover paths toward developing therapies that may prevent or treat CLAD, and identify approaches to improve survival in people with CF after transplant.
The top-ranked application, submitted by Jason Christie, MD, of the University of Pennsylvania, was recognized as the inaugural recipient of the Mitch Greenberg Memorial Award in Lung Transplantation. Dr. Christie and his team will examine how the CF lung microbiome changes in the first year post-transplant, and whether it is different in patients who develop CLAD.
“Mitch and the Greenberg family were tireless advocates for people with CF and championed the importance of lung transplant as a critical area of focus for the Foundation,” Dr. Faro said. “His fight against CF and for better transplant outcomes continues through this award.”