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Best Life: Breakthrough bacteria research improves cystic fibrosis

Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 8:12 AM CDT
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ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — There are more than 30,000 Americans living with cystic fibrosis, an inherited condition that causes the lungs to fill with thick mucus. Patients with CF are also prone to chronic lung infections, which are tough to treat and can destroy the tissue in their lungs.

It’s a tiny micro-organism with a long name…

“We are focused right now on mycobacterium abscessus,” explained Kyle Rohde, PhD, UCF College of Medicine.

Or MAB, for short. MAB causes life-threatening tuberculosis-like infections in people with cystic fibrosis.

“There’s a lot of these pathogens that don’t normally cause infections in healthy people that have a functioning immune system, but the complications that come along with cystic fibrosis make them susceptible to these opportunistic pathogens,” continued Rohde.

Rohde and his colleagues at the University of Central Florida are studying the bacteria---first to understand how MAB becomes resistant to existing antibiotics.

“We often will see people that are infected with abscessus for five, six, seven years and they’re trying different treatments to just keep it at bay and then it comes back again,” said Rohde.

Scientists are using gene silencing techniques to see if turning off one of the genes makes the bacteria harmless. Rohde says researchers could then develop a drug that wipes out the bacteria in a similar way, helping CF patients recover without further damaging their lungs.

Rohde says right now, CF patients with MAB infections have only about a 50 percent chance of being cured with existing antibiotics.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Executive Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

Copyright 2021 WMC. All rights reserved.