This medical video focuses on how Gleevec, a drug for people with cancer, could help those living with a deadly lung disease.
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Jennifer Mathews: Michael Dixon is enjoying every minute he has with his wife Debbie. Earlier this year, his doctor told him, he had a lung disease called pulmonary fibrosis. Michael Dixon: He gave me, at most, a 50/50 chance of making five years, and that's when it sunk in. Jennifer Mathews: He only has half of his lung capacity right now, but as time passes it will decrease even more. Michael Dixon: The hardest part was telling my kids that I might not be around. Jennifer Mathews: Michael is determined to stay around, so he enrolled in a study at Tulane with Doctor Joseph Lasky. Dr. Joseph Lasky: The idea of the use of Gleevec is to stop the disease from getting worse once the patient has been diagnosed. Jennifer Mathews: Gleevec has received national attention for its success in treating leukemia. Dr. Joseph Lasky: Because Fibrosis and Cancer share some of the mechanisms of the development of the disease, we thought that this may be of some benefit for the patients who have fibrosis. Jennifer Mathews: In this disease, scars form on the lungs. Those scars soon take over and the lungs stop working. Based on lab studies, Doctor Lasky says Gleevec should stop that scarring. Dr. Joseph Lasky: At best, we would hope to stop the progression of the disease. It's our hope that the treatment with Gleevec will increase the length of their life as well as improve the quality. Jennifer Mathews: The research is currently ongoing, to find out just how effective Gleevec is. For the study, Michael takes six pills a day and hopes that give him and his lungs a little more time. Michael Dixon: I'd say 99 percent of the time, I believe it's going to work out. I'm hopeful. Jennifer Mathews: This is Jennifer Mathews reporting.