The ion-sugar interaction called glycans can affect the mucus that lines airways — a finding that has implications for cystic fibrosis, two studies reported.

CF is characterized by abnormally thick and sticky mucus that can damage the lungs, gut and other organs and breed bacteria. The two studies showed that ion-gylcan interaction can affect mucus’s structure and fluidity. Researchers said the findings could lead to new treatments for CF.

The most recent study, “A Continuum Model of Mucosa with Glycan-Ion Pairing,” appeared in the January 2018 edition of the journal Macromolecular Theory and Simulations. A 2017 study, “Electro-lyotropic equilibrium and the utility of ion-pair dissociation constants,” appeared in the journal Colloid and Interface Science Communications.