Recent research studies have suggested that proteins called antibodies that are produced by the immune system might be involved in the lung damage of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Antibodies produced by the immune system normal help to fight infections by attacking bacteria and viruses without harming our own tissues. In patients with IPF, there is evidence that certain antibodies (called autoantibodies) attack the lung and contributes to the injury and scarring that occurs in IPF. Our recent studies have found that many IPF patients appear to have excessive autoantibody levels in blood and lungs that might make their disease worse.
Rituximab is a medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of autoantibody diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. Rituximab works by destroying B cells, a type of white blood cell, called a B-lymphocyte, which produce autoantibodies. In this research study, rituximab will be given into a vein to reduce the autoantibody levels that we believe might be contributing to the lung damage in IPF.
This study is being conducted to determine if rituximab provides beneficial effects for IPF patients by decreasing further lung injury.