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'Every country should have a reference centre for ILD'

Professor Demosthenes Bouros
Reading time: 3 min

Greek professor Demosthenes Bouros (MS, PhD, FERS, FAPSR and FCC) has devoted a large part of his working life to treating and researching interstitial lung diseases (ILD). He witnessed first hand how more and more information about this disease became available and how the first medication for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis emerged. According to Bouros, ‘international collaboration and multidisciplinary teams in every reference centre is essential in ILD.’

So, with a rare disease like ILD, it takes a lot of time before someone can diagnose and treat patients with this illness

Difficult disease

As director of a unit for interstitial lung diseases in the University of Athens (Greece), Bouros sees more than a hundred patients with ILD every year. 'I work in a specialized reference center for ILD’, says Bouros, who is also connected to the Sotiria Hospital, a general hospital for diseases of the chest. Bouros has worked on ILD for almost forty years and has written many scientific publications on the subject. 'ILD's are the most difficult areas in pulmonology', says Bouros, 'as well as in medicine in general. There are almost five hundred different diseases that can be classified as ILD's, so a lot of doctors might not have heard about a lot of these diseases and might have never encountered them during their medical training. So, with a rare disease like ILD, it takes a lot of time before someone can diagnose and treat patients with this illness.' 

New criteria

Because ILD's are rare diseases, Bouros thinks it can be helpful to create more awareness around ILD's. 'I think this is needed both in the medical world as in the general public.' According to Bouros, patient organisations and medical societies can play an important role in this. 'Take for example conferences about rare diseases', says Bouros, 'that can create awareness in general practitioners and pulmonologists about things concerning ILD's.' Although more awareness is needed, Bouros is glad that nowadays, more and more doctors are becoming aware of these diseases. 'In the past, any form of pulmonary fibrosis was considered to be idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF)', says Bouros, 'but that is changing now.' The Greek pulmonologist is currently working within an experts committee (ATS/ERS/JRS/ALAT) to publish a statement about new diagnostic criteria for IPF. 'Year after year, intense research results in a better understanding and management of many ILD's and especially IPF', says Bouros. 'Things that can be used to be more accurate in the diagnostic process.'

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I think international cooporation and national and international registries are very important for ILD's

Collaboration

Bouros does lot of collaborative work in ILD with universities around the world. 'I think international cooporation and national and international registries are very important for ILD's. One of the things we investigate this way is the possibility to treat pulmonary fibrosis with stem cells. We also do a lot of genetic research, to explore genes that are involved in ILD's.' Bouros stresses the importance of having reference centers for ILD's in every country. This makes international collaboration in research easier and it is also beneficial for the treatment of patients. 'Every physician should know were he can consult a specialist or refer a patient for a difficult disease like ILD's', says Bouros. 'Most of the ILD cases aren't easy, which is why we need multidisciplinary teams in reference centers that have the expertise and knowledge to deal with this devastating disease.'


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