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OHSU awarded $6.1 million to help improve quality of life for those with chronic lung infection

Researchers will test new treatment regimen to limit antibiotic use for MAC disease
packages of antibiotics
OHSU researchers will explore treatment options for a disease that causes chronic lung infections. Current treatment options require a long-term multidrug approach that impacts the  patient's quality of life. (Getty Images)

Mycobacterium avium complex, or MAC, is a complex disease that causes chronic lung infection in tens of thousands of U.S. residents annually. To treat the condition, patients must take three separate antibiotics daily for up to two years.

While effective, this long-term multidrug regimen often causes extreme side effects, including fatigue, abdominal cramps or skin rash, that greatly impact quality of life.

To help identify the most effective, tolerable treatment option for MAC, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute has awarded researchers at OHSU in Portland, Oregon, $6.1 million to compare the impacts of two- and three-drug therapy options.

man with curly brown hair, wearing blue shirt, smiling at camera.
Kevin Winthrop, M.D., M.P.H.

“New medications for MAC are still many years away, therefore, we need to revamp treatment practices currently available to patients to ensure better quality of life. We anticipate that limiting the number of antibiotics will limit side effects, yet still prove efficient in treating the disease,” said the study’s principal investigator Kevin Winthrop, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of medicine (infectious diseases) and ophthalmology in the OHSU School of Medicine and professor of public health and preventive medicine in the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health.

Inspired by a previous OHSU survey funded through a PCORI engagement award, the trial is considered a key priority by MAC patients. Researchers will review patient data for one year, measuring whether two-drug therapy improves patient-reported quality of life, causes fewer side effects or poses any increased risk of antibiotic resistance.

Results are expected in 2023.

Winthrop’s award has been approved pending completion of a business and programmatic review by PCORI staff and issuance of a formal award contract.

PCORI is an independent, nonprofit organization authorized by Congress in 2010. Its mission is to fund research that will provide patients, their caregivers, and clinicians with the evidence-based information needed to make better-informed health care decisions.

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