Molecules Further Cystic Fibrosis Inflammation

Discovery may lead to new treatments for lung disease

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MONDAY, March 22, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Molecules that influence cystic fibrosis (CF) lung inflammation have been identified by researchers at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

The finding, published in the current issue of Nature Immunology, may help in the development of new treatments to decrease inflammation in children with CF, a life-threatening, genetic disease that causes chronic lung infections and impairs digestion.

The Cincinnati Children's researchers identified a deficiency in the airways of children with CF of a class of molecules called lipoxins. These are key regulators of inflammation.

"When we give analogs of this molecule (lipoxin-like molecules) in mouse models of CF, the molecules do what we'd like them to do -- suppress acute inflammation, switch on the chronic inflammatory process and ameliorate disease -- suggesting that this class of molecules might have therapeutic potential in CF," study author Dr. Christopher Karp, director of molecular immunology at Cincinnati Children's, says in a prepared statement.

Studies in recent years suggest that frequent and prolonged inflammation in the lungs of people with CF eventually destroys the lungs and results in the cardio-respiratory failure that's the primary cause of death in people with CF.

"It's traditionally been thought that the basic problem in the CF lung is an inability to clear bacteria, with infection leading secondarily to lung-damaging inflammation," Karp says.

"Recent studies suggest it may well be the other way around: abnormally vigorous and prolonged airway inflammatory may be a primary problem. Such responses are inefficient at clearing bacteria, and over time lead to airway destruction," he says.

More information

The American Medical Association has more about cystic fibrosis.

SOURCE: Children's Hospital Medical Center of Cincinnati, news release, March 21, 2004

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