During the past decade important progress has been made regarding the pathogenesis of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), which is the most devastating form of idiopathic interstitial pneumonia with a median survival of 3 years. The knowledge gained has been used to design multicentre, randomised, placebo-controlled trials in order to investigate agents with different mechanisms of action. Encouraging results have led to licensing of the first IPF-specific drug, pirfenidone. However, the road to successful treatment is still long. The main aim for the future should be the careful design of clinical trials, by choosing the most clinically meaningful end-point and keeping in mind that combination of various agents may be more effective. This approach has been used in the treatment of lung cancer with which IPF presents many similarities.
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