These new findings, described in a study led by researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), UMass Memorial Health Care (UMMHC) in Worcester, and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) appear in the Feb. 5 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine. Characterized by chronic inflammation of the lungs, CF results in the production of an abnormally thick, sticky mucus, which leads to the development of life-threatening lung infections. Although it was initially thought that infection itself led to eventual lung failure in CF patients, it is now recognized that an excessive host inflammatory response plays a major role in the process. About 1,000 new cases of CF are identified each year, with more than 80 percent of all patients diagnosed by age three. The median age of survival for people with CF in the United States is in the early 30s.
"Since 1989, we have known that the defective CFTR gene is responsible for CF," explains senior author Steven D. Freedman, MD, Ph.D., of the gastroenterology division at BIDMC and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. "But we didn't understand how this defective gene leads to the symptoms of the disease. This new study sheds light on what may be happening and provides a link between CFTR function and fatty acid metabolism."
"CF is a very complicated disease with a variety of factors at play at the cellular level. Research such as this could lead us to a new effective tool in the fight against CF," said Robert J. Beall, Ph.D., presi
Contact: Bonnie Prescott
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center