Dr. Aldo Iacono developed first inhaled anti-rejection drug to extend survival for recipients
Dr. Aldo Iacono, a nationally recognized pulmonary expert who specializes in caring for lung transplant patients, has joined the University of Maryland Medical Center as Medical Director of Lung Transplantation. Dr. Iacono is also an associate professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine.
Dr. Iacono came to Baltimore from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, where he had worked since 1992. There, along with Bartley Griffith, M.D., he developed one of the nation’s largest lung transplantation programs, performing more than 60 lung transplants a year. Dr. Iacono now is working once again with Dr. Griffith, who came to the University of Maryland in 2001 as Professor of Surgery, Chief of Cardiac Surgery and Director of Heart and Lung Transplantation. “I look forward to helping the University of Maryland team build a large, premier lung transplant program with excellent patient outcomes,” says Dr. Iacono.
His research focuses on strategies to improve survival after a lung transplant, which currently averages only about four years. One of the major challenges to extending patients’ lives is to prevent chronic rejection, caused when a lung transplant recipient’s immune system launches an attack against the donated lungs, forming scar tissue within tiny airways in the lung and hindering breathing.
Dr. Iacono was successful in developing an inhaled form of the anti-rejection drug cyclosporine, an important milestone to enable the drug to go directly into the lungs, coating and protecting the small airways. The inhaled form also sends a higher dose of the drug into the lungs. The drug is expected to be evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration later this year. If approved, it will become the first inhaled form of anti-rejection medicine for transplant patients.
“Dr. Iacono’s work has been on the forefront of addressing the main challenge in survival for lung transplant patients, and his development of an inhaled anti-rejection drug is very promising,” says Jeffrey Hasday, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Head of the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
“Dr. Iacono’s arrival at the University of Maryland will strengthen our clinical program in lung transplantation,” says Dr. Griffith, who adds, “We have worked together in the past on many unique and innovative therapies to improve the care of patients, and I look forward to our continued collaboration here in Baltimore.”
“Our patients will benefit from Dr. Iacono’s tremendous expertise and experience in caring for people before and following a lung transplant,” adds Dr. Hasday.
Dr. Iacono says his priorities include educating more patients and physicians about lung transplantation and developing strategies to enable more patients with severe lung disease to receive a transplant.
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