News and Events

Cross-Country Mountain Bike Champion Participates in Lung Disease Research at Rambam

Publication Date: 11/7/2022 10:30 AM

Elias Perlmutter is a miracle man – or rather – a miracle cyclist. Despite a rare and severe lung disease, he continues to achieve victories in competitive cycling and is now participating in a groundbreaking research study at Rambam Health Care Campus.

Elias Permutter, after placing third in a recent cross-country mountain bike race. 
Photoography: Courtesy of Elias Perlmutter.Elias Permutter, after placing third in a recent cross-country mountain bike race. Photoography: Courtesy of Elias Perlmutter.

When 64-year-old Elias Perlmutter from Tirat HaCarmel, a town just outside of Haifa, rides his mountain bike, he finds respite from the daily grind, worries and problems, and even the severe lung disease he has been coping with over the past few years.

Perlmutter was diagnosed some five years ago with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Pulmonary fibrosis is a group of chronic diseases that cause lung tissue scarring, leading to the gradual impairment of lung function. With an unidentifiable cause, the disease appears without warning and primarily attacks patients, mainly men, in their sixties. There are approximately 2,000 people in Israel who suffer from this condition.

Perlmutter, is a patient at Rambam, under the supervision of Dr. Yaniv Dotan, Director of the Pulmonary Institute. The Pulmonary Institute coordinates treatment of the disease for patients throughout Northern Israel. After meeting with several doctors, many examinations, and tests, including a CT scan, Perlmutter’s final diagnosis arrived –pulmonary fibrosis. Now, he is participating in a groundbreaking clinical trial being conducted at Rambam HCC, which involves a new drug that slows down the progression of the disease.

Dotan explains, “At first, Perlmutter only needed monitoring. However, after his condition deteriorated, he needed regular medication. This disease spreads quickly. In some patients, a lung transplant is helpful; otherwise, the disease is fatal, with a life expectancy of five years from diagnosis. No drug treatment exists to slow the disease down or repair the damaged lungs. Rambam HCC is currently involved in a study at the clinical trial phase, in which a drug administered intravenously is being investigated. A single dose of the drug is administered at monthly intervals. Perlmutter is participating in this study, and we are seeing a slowdown in the spread of his disease.”

Based on medical statistics, Perlmutter is a miracle man, and the fact that he can participate in sporting events is another miracle. He is generally healthy and fearless and is used to facing challenges. Like many other difficulties in his life, Perlmutter decided he would manage the disease, and it would not take over his life. He rides his bike and trains at least twice a week. He claims that riding has benefited his self-confidence and resolve, which is more important to him, than physical strength.

Perlmutter has placed in the Israeli mountain biking championship competition three times – an epic achievement. He became the Israeli Mountain Bike Cross-Country Champion for Ages 60+ in 2020 and in 2021, and in 2022, he “only” finished in third place!