Lack of Lung Mucus Causes Infections in Cystic Fibrosis Patients, Study Finds
Contrary to conventional medical belief, cystic fibrosis patients' lung infections might be caused by a lack of mucus, not an excess, according to a study by researchers at Wake Forest University published Thursday in the current issue of the American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology, the Los Angeles Times reports. In the study, Dr. Markus Henke and Dr. Bruce Rubin measured levels of two proteins that comprise mucus, which coats the lungs and prevents bacteria from entering, in 12 patients with cystic fibrosis and 11 patients without the disease. Researchers found that cystic fibrosis patients had a 70% reduction in one protein and a 93% reduction in the other. According to Henke and Rubin, the lack of mucus might explain the frequent lung infections in patients with the disease. Results of the study necessitate a re-evaluation of current treatments and could lead to new the development of new treatments that increase mucus production, the Times reports (Tytell, Los Angeles Times, 7/2). Rubin and colleagues next plan to study in animals whether mucus can "soak up" bacteria in cystic-fibrosis airways and develop alternative therapies targeting mucus production, the Winston-Salem Journal reports (Deaver, Winston-Salem Journal, 7/2). Approximately 40,000 U.S. residents have cystic fibrosis, which reduces life expectancy median to about 30 years (Los Angeles Times, 7/2). The study is available online.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.