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Westies May Hold Answers to Pulmonary Fibrosis

CULVER CITY, Calif., Dec. 11, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis (CPF) and The Westie Foundation of America (WFA) announced today a strategic alliance to fight a deadly lung disease that claims as many human lives as breast cancer each year and a similar percentage of West Highland Terriers, it is believed, as well. The CPF is a human patient advocacy organization for Pulmonary Fibrosis (PF) and the WFA is a canine health organization focused on the health of West Highland Terriers or “Westies”. Both organizations fund research into PF and act as advocates for their patients and members.

“We are pleased to join in a strategic alliance with the Westie Foundation,” said Mishka Michon, Chief Executive Officer of the Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis. “It is our hope that through our combined efforts, much will be learned about Pulmonary Fibrosis through these precious dogs who are also suffering greatly.”

“The Westie Foundation is honored to work with the Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis to support efforts to identify commonalities and differences between the human and canine form of the disease,” said Bebe Pinter, President of the Westie Foundation of America. “It is through this type of collaboration that we can gain important answers to this deadly disease.”

The two organizations first met in 2007 when a first-of-its-kind human/canine research meeting was held on the subject of PF at Purdue University. At that meeting, researchers in the human lung disease and in veterinary medicine agreed the Westie presented as a possible model for research that would allow researchers to identify and target therapies that may save the dogs and humans from the disease that is nearly 100 percent fatal. A white paper is expected out in the next few months in a major human pulmonary medical journal resulting from that meeting.

PF affects a known 128,000 people in the U.S. and likely has a higher incidence and prevalence than is realized due to misdiagnosis and undiagnosed cases. The disease causes progressive and unrelenting scarring in the lungs that eventually suffocates its victims, both human and canine. About 600,000 humans have died from PF in the last 15 years and only about 10,000 were transplanted during that time. Transplant is the only known way patients can survive the disease long term and there is no FDA approved therapy for the disease in the United States.

Comparative research is the term commonly used for research efforts that are done with animals and humans, comparing the disease in both species and identifying the commonalities of the disease manifestation and the differences. It is the differences that often point to possible treatments for disease, according to researchers.

The WFA is launching a Westie Health Survey that will enable tracking of Westies with PF and will lead to accurate incidence and prevalence numbers of affected dogs. The health survey may be found at: http://www.offa.org/surveys/survey_westie.html.
Recently, research was published in the New England Journal of Medicine regarding successful comparative research that came out of Dr. Elaine Ostrander’s lab at the National Institutes of Health’s Dog Genome project. Dr. Ostrander also runs the Human Genome Research Project at NIH. Her work has identified answers that are leading to therapies in bladder cancer and prostrate cancer in both humans and dogs.

For individuals and organizations interested in supporting future human and canine research in Pulmonary Fibrosis, please contact the Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis 1(888) 222-8541 or info@coalitionforpf.org or the Westie Foundation of America (281) 326-3843 or www.westiefoundation.org.

About the Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis
The CPF is a 501C(3) nonprofit organization, founded in 2001 to accelerate research efforts leading to a cure for pulmonary fibrosis (PF), while educating, supporting, and advocating for the community of patients, families, and medical professionals fighting this disease. The CPF funds promising research into new approaches to treat and cure PF; provides patients and families with comprehensive education materials, resources, and hope; serves as a voice for national advocacy of PF issues; and works to improve awareness of PF in the medical community as well as the general public. The CPF’s nonprofit partners include many of the most respected medical centers and healthcare organizations in the U.S. With more than 26,000 members nationwide, the CPF is the largest nonprofit organization in the U.S. dedicated to advocating for those with PF. For more information please visit www.coalitionforpf.org or call (888) 222-8541.

About the Westie Foundation of America
The mission of the Westie Foundation of America, Inc. is a 501C(3) organization established to provide financial aid and other support for medical research in order to benefit the health and quality of life of West Highland White Terriers; and, to further develop and communicate information regarding the health, care, breeding and quality of life of Westies to Westie owners, Westie breeders and veterinarians. For more information visit www.westiefoundation.org.

About Pulmonary Fibrosis (PF)
Pulmonary Fibrosis (PF) is a lung disorder characterized by a progressive scarring – known as fibrosis – and deterioration of the lungs, which slowly robs its victims of their ability to breathe. Approximately 128,000 Americans suffer from PF, and there is currently no known cause or cure. An estimated 48,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. PF is difficult to diagnose and an estimated two-thirds of patients die within five years of diagnosis. Sometimes PF can be linked to a particular cause, such as certain environmental exposures, chemotherapy or radiation therapy, residual infection, or autoimmune diseases such as scleroderma or rheumatoid arthritis. However, in many instances, no known cause can be established. When this is the case, it is called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).

SOURCE Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis and the Westie Foundation of America

CONTACT: Teresa Barnes, Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis, +1-303-521-4080, TeresaRBarnes@hotmail.com; Bebe Pinter, Westie Foundation of America, +1-281-326-3843, bjpinter@msn.com

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