Researchers at the University of Virginia School of Engineering and other across the country are working on a computer model to understand which genes cause cystic fibrosis and other diseases.

The National Institutes of Health gave them a five-year $3.2 million grant to look into the interactions of mucins.

Roseanne Ford is a professor of chemical engineering at UVA and has been working on the research to determine if properties of mucus can affect whether or not an infection can occur in diseases like cystic fibrosis.

“I think one of the important outcomes from this will be tools that doctors and clinicians can use to improve their approaches for treatment and maybe for prevention of different health issues related to mucosa,” Ford said.

Jason Papin is a professor biomedical engineering and helped submit the application for the research grant. “Cystic fibrosis is one example where there’s an overproduction of mucus in the lungs to create this environment where bacteria can come in, settle in, and create a significant health problem. By understanding how bacteria interact with these molecules, we can understand better how to stop these infections from settling in,” Papin said.

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