(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – Nicotine patches were created to help smokers quit, but researchers are conducting a study to see if they can also help patients who suffer from a chronic lung disease. Sarcoidosis is a growth of inflammatory cells, most likely triggered by inhaling pesticides or other toxic materials. If the condition doesn’t go away on its own, it can cause severe lung damage and even death.
Traditionally, sarcoidosis is treated with steroids, but long-term use can cause severe side effects, including high blood pressure, osteoporosis and diabetes.
So, researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center conducted a small three-month clinical trial using nicotine patches as a treatment for sarcoidosis. After seeing promising results, they’ve launched a larger randomized trial that will dig deeper into whether nicotine patches can be a long-term solution for managing the disease.
“When we examine the data, we hope to find that the nicotine patches help stop or even reverse the growth of sarcoidosis cells,” said Dr. Elliott Crouser, who is leading the clinical trial. “And because nicotine is a stimulant, patients also get a secondary benefit. Extreme fatigue is the most common symptom of sarcoidosis, and the patches help them get through their day with more energy.”
The trial will last 6 months and researchers will use CAT scans along with a newly-developed computer analysis system measure the amount of sarcoidosis in patients’ bodies.