A combination of drugs has potentially been uncovered that could halt the progression of fibrosis, a disease thought to be responsible for almost half of all deaths, according to a new study.

The research, published in European Urology, was conducted by scientists from Anglia Ruskin University, University College London and KU Leuven over seven years. It involved testing out various drug combinations to prevent scarring which could lead to cirrhosis of the liver, kidney, lung and heart fibrosis.

Such fibrosis occurs when injuries cause fibroplast cells to change into myofibroblast cells, in order to heal a wound. Normally when the wound is healed the tissue structure returns to normal. In some cases, however, myofibroblast cells go out of control and ‘overheal’ wounds, resulting in scar tissue which is believed to lead to around 45% of all deaths.

The scientists developed a model to test 21 different drugs, determining that a combination of phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors and selective oestrogen receptor could halt the fibrosis which causes Peyronie’s Disease in cells and animals.

Anglia Ruskin University’s Professor Selim Cellek, lead author in the study, said that it was an “extremely exciting find”: “The principle of fibrosis is what causes Peyronie’s Disease and so this is an important breakthrough. Although we do not believe this particular drug combination will be able to reverse the fibrotic process, it has the potential to treat all fibrotic diseases and halt progression.

“To our knowledge, this is the first study of its kind to show a synergy between these two types of drugs. We look forward to taking this novel combination to clinical trials in the near future.”