Lung scarring reversal drugs discovered by local doctors sees great progress



TYLER, Texas (KETK) - We first reported on a drug developed by local doctors to reverse lung scarring in August of 2015. After receiving countless emails from people across the world, we met with those doctors at UT Health Northeast to get an update on their development.

For more than half his life, Dr. Steven Idell has worked to find a cure for Pulmonary Fibrosis and Pleural Disease.

"The two drugs that are out there, Nintedanib and Pirfenidone, are not known to be curative," said Dr. Idell. "Many patients have to stop those medications because of side effects, typically GI side effects."

So, Dr. Idell, Dr. Sreeram Shetty and many others developed their own. The peptide we reported on in 2015 that targets scarring inside the lung is manufactured and ready to go.

"It basically is going to take further investment to be able to do that or further grantsmanship or further philanthropic support," he said.

Dr. Idell explained it will be about a year to 18 months before that drug reaches clinical trials. However the clot buster to address scarring in the pleural space, or outside of the lungs, is already in the clinical trial phase.

"Since we last talked, that drug is in clinical trial in Australia and two patients have now been dosed and are doing well on the medication," said Dr. Idell.

The other drug in development is a small peptide which can be used to block Pulmonary Fibrosis, or scarring in the lung.

"We're very encouraged by the results we've seen here," he said. "It does block established fibrosis and basically the news here is that it is likewise in the commercialization phase. We have investments that have been made through a company called Lung Therapeutics, Incorporated which was created by UT system."

He stressed the importance of the National Health Institute, which provides the initial charge to get projects like this started.

"Without the NIH, these trials would never really be able to be conducted which starts with research that's very, very basic," he said.

He said there is hope for patients because there are currently about twenty different drugs in clinical trial testing at phase one level which is the safety level for Pulmonary Fibrosis. There is also another twenty in phase two, or "does it work" testing.

"The problem is, this is a lethal disease and people are desperate and if you're going to survive it you're typically going to need a lung transplant right now. We, and many other National Institute of Health investigators, are on this problem," he said.

If you would like to follow along on the progress with these two drugs, click here.

You can also learn more about the Texas Lung Injury Institute, here.

To check grant/funding support, you can search through the National Institute of Health, here.

To find Pulmonary Fibrosis trials, click here.

If you would like to contact Dr. Steven Idell, his email is or office 903-877-7556.



Recent discoveries by TLII investigators offer promising new therapeutic targets and identify new non-surgical treatment approaches for each of these forms of lung disease.

Among these discoveries, a patent has been issued for a new approach using a clot-busting agent to prevent lung and pleural space scarring and a new peptide (part of a protein) has shown excellent protection of the lung against scarring.

In addition, other molecules have been identified that have been used to reduce the size of lung cancers in mice and which block the growth of lung cancer or malignant mesothelioma while sparing normal cells and which lack the toxicity of traditional cancer chemotherapy.


Pioneer Founding member
Thanks for posting these articles. The peptide sounds so promising. I don't have pulmonary fibrosis, but my lungs are badly scarred from several bouts of pneumonia. I'm sure others who suffer from various lung diseases also have scarred lungs. It would seem reasonable to think this could help thousands and thousands of patients. Can't happen soon enough.