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Tuesday, 25 July 2006 09:11
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
Researchers hit breakthrough in fight against cystic fibrosis
Researchers at the University of Dundee in Scotland have discovered a fat-controlling protein which could lead to breakthrough treatment for cystic fibrosis.

The researchers found that the protein which regulates fat levels is defective in people affected by the life-threatening lung condition, who are characteristically very thin.

They also discovered links between the defective protein and people suffering from cancer and diabetes – diseases which cystic fibrosis sufferers often develop.

It is now hoped treatments can be developed which could help cystic fibrosis patients put on weight, and increase their life expectancy and quality of life.

The international research team which made the discovery is headed by Dr Anil Mehta, head of the Cystic Fibrosis Database at Dundee University. "It has long been known that cystic fibrosis patients suffer significant variations in weight - they tend to be very thin and can suffer very fast weight loss when they fall ill - but we did not know why this was the case," he said.

"Similarly it has been known that cystic fibrosis patients suffer a higher rate of cancer than normal and again we did not know why. In equal measure, almost half of these patients develop an unusual form of diabetes.

"What our research has uncovered are the genetic links, through this cellular fat controller, which we believe lead to these differences in fat metabolism and cancer. There are also significant links here to diabetes”.

Dr Mehta said the findings could have a "major impact" on research into cystic fibrosis and the other conditions as well as the treatment of patients. "The implications of this are that we have opened up a whole new area of research which links all of these conditions," he added.

"From here on in researchers looking at cancer, diabetes, obesity or cystic fibrosis should all be working with each other and looking at what the other is doing, because it is all linked together. We believe that these results could have a significant impact in terms of the treatment of patients with the three diseases - cystic fibrosis, some forms of childhood cancer and adult onset diabetes - and hence, their potential life expectancy”.


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