Researchers in the USA have created a model that mimics the airways of a person with cystic fibrosis – and hope that this could represent a way to test how well new drugs work.
Cystic fibrosis is a genetic condition in which the lungs and digestive system get clogged up with sticky mucus that can trap viruses and bacteria, often causing swelling and infections. It affects a person’s breathing and digestion.
A paper in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine explains how the model was developed using cells and mucus found in lungs taken from people with cystic fibrosis during transplant operations.
In the same article, the researchers describe how the model has already been used to learn more about why people with cystic fibrosis have problems with sticky mucus in the airways.
The scientists found that normal cells and those in the cystic fibrosis models made mucus under the same conditions. However, while the mucus in cells of people who do not have cystic fibrosis was thin and mobile, the cells of people with cystic fibrosis did not produce much fluid at all, giving it the sticky texture.
The scientists are now working with pharmaceutical companies to introduce the model in tests for new cystic fibrosis drugs before they are trialled in people.
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