Solving the mystery of lung infections in people with cystic fibrosis

Researchers have wondered for years why the lungs of people who have cystic fibrosis are so vulnerable to infection. Our 18-person team spent seven years working on their solution to this challenge, and the results have been published in Nature Communications journal. Cystic Fibrosis Canada funded the project.

Our team used X-rays at the Canadian Light Source to produce an image of the air-mucous layer in a sedated pig, then made it inhale bacteria relevant to cystic fibrosis and saw that triggered a strong production of mucous. The same test was done on pigs genetically modified to be missing the same gene, CFTR, as people with cystic fibrosis. These pigs were completely unable to respond to the bacteria, proving the hypothesis of interference from the disease. We believe the same result will be found in humans.