CLEVELAND, Ohio (Ivanhoe Newswire) --- It strikes suddenly, usually women between the ages of 30 and 50 and no one knows why. Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease that slowly and painfully turns skin and organs into scar tissue.
There have been several therapies used to treat the various symptoms, but the very first FDA approved drug is now on the market.
Lynn Bishop, a scleroderma patient shared with Ivanhoe, “I woke up and couldn’t breathe, couldn’t catch my breath, couldn’t carry on a conversation. It was immediate. From there it progressed to a chronic cough. I have constant pain in my hands and my feet. It’s almost like when your skin feels too tight after sunburn.”
The pain Lynn Bishop was feeling, the shortness of breath, was the beginning of scleroderma, a disease that hardens organs and tissues throughout the body. Lynn needed 77 pills a week just to get by.
“It has changed my life,” Bishop revealed.
The once competitive skater and hockey coach could now barely move.
“When you hear there’s no treatment or no cure, to me it made me mad. But, ‘okay, let’s fight.’ like there’s gotta be something. Let’s keep working,” Bishop recalled.
“Unfortunately, nothing makes things go away in scleroderma, but I think we’re now starting to see some hope in scleroderma,” explained Kristin Highland, MD, Director of the Rheumatic Lung Disease Program in the Pulmonary Department of the Respiratory Institute at Cleveland Clinic
Hope came at the Cleveland Clinic where researchers were testing a new drug that slows the progression of scleroderma in the lungs.
Five-hundred seventy-six patients took the drug Ofev. After 52 weeks, patients had a 44 percent slower loss of their lung function compared to those who received a placebo.
“My lung function test has improved incredibly,” Bishop noted.
Helping Lynn feel better physically and emotionally.
“It was something that gave me hope. I feel like I have my life back,” Bishop rejoiced.
Commonly reported side effects with Ofev include gastrointestinal discomfort, headache, weight loss, and hypertension. This new drug is also being used for people with other lung diseases such as COPD.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Executive Producer; Marsha Lewis, Field Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.