Interstitial lung disease (ILD) covers a group of lung diseases affecting the tissue and space (interstitium) around the air sacs within the lungs. Professor Ken Ohta, from the National Hospital Organization (NHO) Tokyo National Hospital and the Japan Anti-Tuberculosis Association (JATA) Fukujuji Hospital both in Japan, is a specialist in pulmonary medicine and allergy and highlights that prolonged ILD may lead to pulmonary fibrosis or scarring of lung tissue. Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) has an estimated prevalence of 10 in 10,000 within the Japanese population and is reported to have a survival duration of 61-69 months. This represents a very poor prognosis, even with treatment with existing anti-fibrosis drugs. 'IPF affects around five million sufferers worldwide and most commonly affects those in their 60s and 70s, with incidence of the disease much less common in those under 50,' he says. Affecting a greater number of men than women, IPF is associated with smoking, viral infection and genetic predisposition, and is characterised by irreversible, destructive fibrotic changes to the lung tissue. Ohta aims to discover a novel molecular target for the condition that may lead to the development of a new therapeutic strategy for treating pulmonary diseases such as IPF. He has been involved in a number of groups and projects relating to pulmonary disease, including his work as part of the team that developed the Japanese Guideline for Asthma, which aims to expand knowledge about asthma and eliminate asthma-related deaths. Through research dealing with airway remodeling in asthma using their murine asthma model, they have discovered that anti-IGF-1 could inhibit collagen deposition at the site of airway remodeling via inhibition of profibrosing pathway, known to be shared by lung fibrosis. Ohta believes that, despite the discovery of several anti-fibrosis drugs in recent years, there has been relatively little progress made in the field of pulmonary medical research in terms of driving new therapies and improving the survival rate of patients diagnosed with IPF and related diseases. He hopes that he and his team can push the boundaries of treatment for these conditions and give hope to millions of sufferers across the globe.