05:26pm Saturday 11 July 2020

Loyola experts discuss rare lung disease that strikes women during childbearing years

Symptoms of the debilitating disease, which almost exclusively affects women, include shortness of breath, chest pain, chronic cough and lung collapse. As the disease progresses, many patients must go on oxygen, and some require lung transplants. LAM can cause death from respiratory failure.

About 300 patients, doctors, nurses and scientists will discuss the latest advancements in the fight against LAM, during the 20th annual LAM Foundation International Research Conference March 26-29th.

Among the speakers at the 50 sessions are doctors and nurses from Loyola University Medical Center’s LAM clinic. Loyola is the only center in Illinois to be designated a Center of Excellence by the LAM Foundation. Loyola treats about 60 LAM patients, making it one of the largest LAM clinics in the United States. Loyola also has the oldest and largest lung transplant program in Illinois.

The 2015 LAM conference will be held at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, Ill.

Daniel Dilling, MD, medical director of Loyola’s lung transplant program and LAM clinic, will discuss the latest developments in lung transplantation. Dr. Dilling also will give an educational talk to patients and their families.

Several other Loyola clinicians and scientists also will speak. Rachael Dunn, RD, LDN, will talk about nutritional issues. Emily Gilbert, MD, will talk about pulmonary function tests. Jane Thomas, RN, will be part of a panel that will discuss lung transplantation. Terrence Demos, MD, will talk to patients and families about understanding X-rays and CT scans. Caroline LePoole, PhD, will discuss the potential of immunotherapy for treating LAM. Dr. LePoole has received funding from the LAM Foundation and the federal government to investigate a potential immunotherapy in which the patient’s own immune system cells, called T lymphocytes, would be manipulated into attacking the cells that cause LAM.

In patients with LAM, abnormal cells start growing out of control in the body, including the lungs, lymph nodes, lymph vessels and kidneys. Over time, the abnormal cells form cysts that can invade the lungs, destroying and replacing normal lung tissue. LAM is progressive and frequently fatal.

There is no cure for LAM. However, with early intervention and treatment, a LAM patient’s quality of life can be improved and her lifespan dramatically extended.

“At Loyola we provide a breadth of experience and skill in specialty areas that pertain to LAM,” Dr. Dilling said. “We can manage the spectrum of LAM issues, ranging  from minor shortness of breath to lung transplantation.”

Loyola’s LAM clinic includes pulmonologists, radiologists, pathologists, interventional radiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons, who work together to diagnose, treat and manage complications of the disease. They are supported by respiratory therapists, nutritionists and physical therapists.

Patients at Loyola’s LAM clinic have access to a variety of clinical trials designed to find treatments for LAM. 

The LAM Foundation, based in Cincinnati, is working on a national basis to enhance the care of LAM patients as well as fostering collaboration among scientists, clinicians and patients to inspire innovative research efforts. Over the past 20 years, The LAM Foundation has raised more than $19 million and directed the majority to research. These funds have contributed to three major scientific breakthroughs, including the first evidence of a genetic link to LAM, the identification of a LAM gene, a molecular explanation for abnormal smooth muscle cell growth in LAM and the first-ever LAM treatment trial.

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children’s Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola’s Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

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