Cystic Fibrosis

Grace Dockstader

What is Cystic Fibrosis?

Cystic Fibrosis (CF) affects the lungs, pancreas, liver, and intestines. The main problem with CF is that it turns normally slippery, watery mucus into thick, sticky mucus. This happens because the defective gene interferes with the body's function to transport water and salt into and out of cells. This causes the mucus to become thick and sticky and it clogs up organs and prevents the organs from working properly.

Symptoms of Cystic Fibrosis

Some symptoms of CF include lung and sinus infections because of the slowed immune system, difficulty breathing because of the build-up of mucus, poor growth because of mixed up hormones,, and infertility because of the mucus taking over organs.

Are There Treatments for Cystic Fibrosis?

One type of treatment is CPT, which stands for Chest Physical Therapy. This type of treatment involves hitting or "clapping" of the chest to dislodge mucus from lungs so it can be coughed up. Another type of treatment includes techniques to trigger strong coughs that help loosen and clear thick mucus from airways.

Is There a Cure for Cystic Fibrosis?

In 1985, a scientist named Lap-Chee Tsui used DNA markers to track down the recessive CF gene to chromosome 7. This opened up a huge window for other scientists to find a cure. Francis Collins and Tsui were working when they came to the startling conclusion that most CF patients were missing a tiny sliver of DNA, a sequence of letters, CTT. In healthy subjects, the gene had 1,800 amino acids, while in CF patients, they had 1,799 amino acids. It was missing a vital amino acid, phenylalanine. Basically, the missing amino acid skewed the body's balance of salt and water. They developed a drug that would be put into the lungs (where CF was most deadly) that would send healthy genes to the lungs. The sick cells welcomed the healthy gene, allowing chloride to pass in and out of cells. Thus, CF has a semi-effective cure.

Grace Dockstader

2nd period