By inhaling a saltwater aerosol solution almost twice as salty as the Atlantic Ocean for between 10 and 15 minutes at least twice a day, young patients should be able to avoid a significant part of the damage the disease causes to their lungs, the researchers said. That's because the aerosolized saltwater restores the thin lubricant layer of water that normally coats airway surfaces. This water layer promotes the clearance of the naturally occurring mucus the body uses to trap harmful bacteria, viruses and other foreign particles.
One scientific team consists of faculty members at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine and UNC Hospitals. The other, also supported in part by the U.S. and Australian CF foundations, includes faculty and staff at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, the University of Sydney and the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, all in Sydney.
Reports on both studies, which were collaborative and complementary, appear in the Jan. 19 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Authors of the first report, all at UNC, are Drs. Scott H. Donaldson, assistant professor of medicine; William D. Bennett, research associate professor of medicine; Kirby L. Zeman, research associate at the Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma and Lung Biology; Michael R. Knowles, professor of medicine; Robert Tarran, assistant professor of medicine; and Richard C. Boucher, professor and director of the Cystic Fibrosis Research and Treatment Center.