Title: The future of Pulmonary Hypertension – An interview with Prof. Olivier Sitbon professor of respiratory medicine at the South Paris University and member of the WSPHA Scientific Board

Professor Sitbon, please introduce yourself.

I’m Olivier Sitbon and I’m a professor of respiratory medicine at the South Paris University in Le Kremlin-Bicetre, a location in the south of Paris and I also work in the French Referral Center for Pulmonary Hypertension in Bicetre University Hospital.

What needs to be done in the future to improve the treatment of Pulmonary Hypertension?

In the next future we have to do some progresses in different directions: of course in basic science to know better the pathophysiology of the disease, in genetics by the discovery of new genes and in understanding how to deal with these new genes to develop new treatments. I think that’s an important point because, for a long time, we did not have new treatments and all the new ones have been tested. It is important to find new therapies as the new ones we have today, when they have been tested in phase 2 studies, were all negative for many many reasons. So, we have to work a lot on this topic of clinical trials, first of all, to develop new drugs and also to conduct new trials in patients with Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension. And also we have to better use the treatments we have, because we have at least ten drugs available, and with a better knowledge of how to use them we can probably improve the long term outcome of patients with Pulmonary Hypertension. 

How did you become interested in Pulmonary Hypertension treatment?

From the beginning of my fellowship, I was very interested in pulmonary vascular diseases and in particular to Pulmonary Hypertension and especially Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension. Then, I became a consultant in this department and then, a few years later, I became a professor of respiratory medicine, mainly specialized in pulmonary vascular diseases. 

At the beginning of the 90s, I was very impressed by the patients suffering from Pulmonary Hypertension, and we didn’t have a lot of treatment for those patients. I was very interested in the care of those patients, how to improve their symptoms, how to improve the outcome, so I decided to work a lot on this topic, and finally we were the first to utilize the first treatment for those diseases and I observed regularly the improvement of my patients using more and more drugs, targeting the different dysfunctional pathways in PAH.

How do you think the WSPHA help in improving the knowledge and treatment of Pulmonary Hypertension?

I think that this new Association will be very useful in our practice and to improve the knowledge in the disease. Until now we just had a World Symposium every five years and people worked on different topics just before each World Symposia. Now we have the opportunity, with this Association, to develop new ideas, to propose new studies, and finally we can work together in advance before the new Symposium that will be held in the US in 2023. Now we can develop some projects and some potential studies to perform in patients with Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension.

Now we have finally the opportunity to share ideas, to propose some projects and some trials in advance, and to discuss with all the experts in the field of Pulmonary Hypertension before the next World Symposium.