A panel of blood proteins can predict if patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) are likely to die within two years, researchers claim.
The findings could help medical professionals distinguish between those patients who need a lung transplant immediately and those who can wait.
Lead investigator Dr Naftali Kaminski, of the Pitt School of Medicine, stated: "It's hard to tell based on symptoms alone which patients care in the greatest danger.
"This biomarker panel has predictive power that can guide our treatment plan. It may also help us design more effective research trials."
Dr Kaminski previously identified a specific genetic profile in patients that accelerated the progression of IMF to complete pulmonary failure and death without a lung transplant.
Some 437 differentially expressed genes were found between subjects studies in the University of Pittsburgh trial. Among those, it was found that overexpressed genes generally belonged to those who were male and who smoked.
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