SOURCE: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

May 02, 2007 12:37 ET

Researchers at BIDMC to Study Airway Bypass Treatment for Emphysema

BOSTON, MA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- May 2, 2007 -- Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) will participate in an international, multi-center clinical trial to explore a treatment that may offer a minimally invasive option for those suffering with advanced widespread emphysema.

The Exhale Airway Stents for Emphysema (EASE) trial focuses on a procedure called airway bypass, which is designed to create pathways in the lung for trapped air to escape and, in turn, relieve emphysema symptoms including shortness of breath.

"We are very excited to be part of this study because currently there are limited treatment options for emphysema," says Armin Ernst, MD, and principal investigator of the study at BIDMC. Lung transplant is the only surgical option available to people with advanced widespread emphysema.

Emphysema is a chronic, progressive and irreversible lung disease characterized by the destruction of lung tissue. The loss of the lungs' natural elasticity and the collapse of airways in the lung combine to make exhalation ineffective, leaving the emphysema sufferer with hyperinflation because they can not get air out of their lungs.

With hyperinflation, breathing becomes inefficient and the patient is always short of breath. Even the most minimal physical activities become difficult for emphysema patients who many become dependent on oxygen therapy.

Airway bypass is minimally invasive so the risks associated with complicated surgery do not apply. "Ultimately what we would like to see from the results of this procedure is not only an ability to mimic drugs but the ability to mimic the results of surgery," Ernst says.

During airway bypass, physicians will use a flexible bronchoscope inserted through the mouth into the airways. A Doppler probe is then inserted through the bronchoscope to identify a site in the airway that is away from blood vessels. A special needle makes a small opening and an Exhale® Drug-Eluting Stent is placed in the passageway to keep it open and allow trapped air in the lung to escape.

The procedure involves placing up to six drug-eluting stents and takes approximately one to two hours. Patients could see an immediate improvement in dyspnea (shortness of breath).

The airway bypass procedure is still under clinical investigation, but early data suggest it may hold promise for patients with emphysema. Emphysema affects an estimated 60 million people worldwide with more than 3 million sufferers in the United States. There is no cure for emphysema.

BIDMC is currently recruiting patients for the EASE Trial. Involvement in the study will last from approximately 15 months up to 5 years (depending on if the patient is randomized to the control or the treatment group) and include 8 to 16 physician appointments. All study-related medical procedures will be carried out at no charge to the patient and patients will be closely monitored throughout the trial. Participants will also receive at least 14 weeks of pulmonary rehabilitation therapy.

If you or someone you know over the age of 35 have been diagnosed with advanced widespread emphysema and no longer smoke (or would be willing to stop smoking two months prior to the study), you may qualify to participate in this study. For more information please call 866-431-3273 or visit www.EASEtrialUS.com.

The study is sponsored by Broncus Technologies, Inc. Broncus and Exhale are trademarks of Broncus Technologies, Inc.

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a patient care, teaching and research affiliate of Harvard Medical School and ranks third among independent hospitals nationwide in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding. BIDMC is clinically affiliated with the Joslin Diabetes Center and is a research partner of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. BIDMC is the official hospital of the Boston Red Sox. For more information, visit http://www.bidmc.harvard.edu.

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