Dry, unproductive cough is a common symptom of pulmonary fibrosis. Over 70% of patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis have a dry cough, which often gets worse on exertion and can dramatically affect patients’ quality of life.
Although the causes of pulmonary fibrosis cough are unknown, scientists believe that lung fibrosis may cause sensory nerves in the airways to become hypersensitive, triggering the cough reflex. This hypersensitivity may be caused by the lungs becoming less flexible and distorted, due to fibrosis, which affects the nerves. It may also be due to increased chemical sensitivity of fibrotic tissues. Other drivers of cough in PF patients may include gastric reflux, post-nasal drip and asthma
Currently, there are no approved treatments for pulmonary fibrosis cough and many of the standard treatments for acute cough, designed to suppress the symptoms, do not work well for pulmonary fibrosis patients.
Pulmonary fibrosis cough: Drug development
Research is being carried out around the world to better understand and develop treatments for PF cough. Pharmaceutical companies play a vital role in drug development, from identifying possible treatments to sponsoring clinical trials.
Potential treatments for PF cough have entered the clinical trial phase of development:
Trevi Therapeutics is a US based pharmaceutical company. They are currently investigating the effect of Haduvio™ on IPF cough.
NeRRe Therapeutics is a British pharmaceutical company. They are currently investigating the effect of Orvepitant on IPF cough.
Both NeRRe and Trevi supported APF’s work during PF month 2021.
Clinical trials involve people taking part in a research study which aims to test the safety and effectiveness of a new drug or intervention. Clinical trials may progress from Phase 1 through to Phase 3 trials if a potential treatment or intervention is shown to be safe and effective. Phase 3 clinical trials are larger scale trials involving more participants. Phase 3 trials are required before a drug can be considered for approval for patients to use.