Scientists explore root cause of cystic fibrosis


East Lansing, Mich (WLNS) — Scientists are trying to get to the root cause of cystic fibrosis.

The inherited disorder causes lung and digestive system damage in addition to other organs in the body.

Through a $2.7 million National Institutes of Health grant, MSU and Spectrum Health plan to look at anaerobic bacteria found in all CF patients, which are often dismissed as a non-factor by scientists.

“While the newly approved Trikafta medication isn’t a cure, it certainly has demonstrated positive health benefits for those suffering from the disease; even patients on Trikafta will still battle chronic lung infections,” leader of the grant, Robert Quinn and MSU assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology said.

Cystic fibrosis is a progressive, life-threatening disease that produces thick mucus and clogs lungs and passageways, which cuts off oxygen supply.

MSU researchers are focusing on pulmonary exacerbations also known as flare ups that cause hospital stays and require aggressive antibiotic treatment. During the flare-ups anaerobic bacteria multiply and dominate.

Many doctors treating patients aren’t aware of these anaerobes,” Quinn said. “There’s still plenty of guesswork in treating CF. Antibiotics are prescribed, flare ups temporarily subside and the patient gets to leave the hospital; but sometimes they don’t improve and doctors don’t understand why.

In addition, the team is going to use cutting-edge multi-omics methods, including microbiome sequencing, metabolomics and novel bioinformatics data analysis platforms, which in essence are part of a big-data approach to reveal clues toward a cure, Quinn said.

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