TV series such as "Autopsy," "House" and "Heartland," as well as Michael Moore's documentary "Sicko," have raised awareness about the disease by showing characters or real-life people suffering from pulmonary fibrosis.
"When Hollywood takes notice of something and celebrities are associated with a cause, things really start to happen," Mishka Michon, chief executive officer of the Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis, said in a statement. "We are thankful for the work being done in TV and film to raise awareness and increase interest in pulmonary fibrosis. It is this kind of interest, as with AIDS and breast cancer, that takes a disease from terminal to treatable."
Evel Knievel and Robert Goulet, both of whom died of the disease in 2007. Other Hollywood celebrities who have died of pulmonary fibrosis are Marlon Brando, James Doohan, Gordon Jump and Peter Benchley.
About 128,000 Americans suffer from Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis and 40,000 are expected to die this year, the coalition said.