The discovery, reported today (Jan. 30), suggests drugs now used to treat CF infections dont work as well as doctors and patients wish since they are only poorly directed at the target, researchers say. Lung infections are the leading cause of illness and death in such patients.
A report on the study is the cover article in the February issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation. U.S. authors are Drs. Ute Schwab, Robert Tarran, James R. Yankaskas, Scott Randell and Richard C. Boucher Jr. of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Dr. Keith C. Meyer of the University of Wisconsin. European authors include Drs. Dieter Worlitzsch, Martina Ulrich, Gerd Doring and others at the University of Tubingen in Germany, along with Swiss and French researchers.
Boucher, director of the Cystic Fibrosis/ Pulmonary Research and Treatment Center at the UNC School of Medicine, and one of two senior authors, called the paper very important because before long it should change and improve treatment for children and young adults born with this very serious illness.
Our initial work was designed to answer the question of whether the debilitating lung infections cystic fibrosis patients suffer occur deep in the cells lining the airways or are localized on cell surfaces in the sticky mucous overlying those cells, he said. Using electron microscopy and several sensitive techniques, we found, not surprisingly, that the infections were in the mucous.
Researchers then reasoned that the most common bacterium infecting CF patients, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, thrived in that sticky, oxygen-rich environment in the airways, but that turned out not to be true, said Boucher
Contact: David Williamson
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill