ARDS patients become severely short of breath, needing intensive care, usually with a mechanical ventilator. Excess fluid in the lungs displaces oxygen and leads to respiratory failure, Matthay said.
"This finding will save thousands of lives each year," said Claude Lenfant, M.D., director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the NIH, which funded the large-scale study. "It provides us with something that we can implement quickly, at no additional cost, that will improve the treatment of intensive care patients. This is important news."
In an era of tight budgets for medical research it is interesting to note that this simple treatment study required a large-scale, long-term clinical trial which, according to Matthay, "would never have been done if it had to rely on biotech industry support." There is no potential profit in the treatment, he pointed out: no new drug, no new apparatus or appliance to market. "It simply requires a change of setting on the ventilator," Matthay said. "But we couldn't have established its effectiveness without the NIH support for a multi-site study."
The oxygen-rich breaths of air provided to patients in the successful clinical trial were each half the volume of those used in conventional ventilation therapy for ARDS.
At UCSF, Brian Daniel served as the study's clinical coordinator; at SFGHMC,
Richard Kallet was clinical coordinator. Both are respiratory therapists.
Other study sites included hospitals associated with the Cleveland Clinic, Duke
University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Michigan, University of
Washington and Vanderbilt University. The study was coordinated at Massachusetts
General Hospital, Bost
Contact: Wallace Ravven
University of California - San Francisco