Researchers are investigating the use of ibuprofen delivered by aerosol to treat lung inflammation and improve lung function.

Research has found that ibuprofen, when taken at high doses, helps slow the progression of lung function decline in people with cystic fibrosis. Improved lung function is important, given that most people diagnosed die by their early 50s, usually due to chronic lung infections caused by their inability to move particles, including bacteria, up and out of the lungs. The downside is that ibuprofen doses that high, when taken routinely, can result in gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding and — when combined with the antibiotics that these patients often have to take for their recurring lung infections — acute kidney injury.

But what if you could get the drug just to the area that needs it: the lungs? You could harness ibuprofen’s benefits without the negative side effects.

Carolyn Cannon, MD, PhD, an associate professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, is working on a way to do just that.

“We feel that nanoparticle ibuprofen delivered by aerosol to the lungs would be a fantastic therapeutic,” Cannon said. And because it is essentially a repurposed drug — only the delivery method is different — the development and regulatory approval process should be relatively easy, in comparison to the requirements for a novel therapeutic.

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