A new study conducted by Eindhoven University of Technology and McGill University in Montreal researchers may have taken a step towards developing a drug to treat cystic fibrosis (CF) by working with the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) protein. In individuals with CF, the CFTR protein is not located in the right place in mucus-producing cells, but remains inside the cell while it should be in the cell wall. A news report from Science Daily notes that these cells secrete a tough mucus with severe consequences; however, researchers have succeeded in conducting the CFTR to the cell walls.

The research team managed to isolate a fundamental characteristic of CF in a laboratory. The CFTR protein was found to cause CF in about 70% of the Caucasian population, and this protein contains anomalies and remains inside the cell wall. It was already known that a different kind of protein, called 14-3-3, which is naturally present in the cells of healthy individuals, plays a role in transporting the CFTR to the cell wall, as noted on the Science Daily report. The scientists have now found fusicoccin-A, a naturally occurring substance that can ensure that this transport does not take place.

The Science Daily report indicates that whether a drug can be developed to stop cystic fibrosis still remains to be seen because researchers have to see whether the mutant CFTR contained in the cell wall helps produce liquid mucus and how much. The researchers then will have to find an alternative to fusicoccin-A that has the same healing effect and optimum drug properties since fusicoccin-A has a number of properties that do not predispose it to being an appropriate drug. For example, the solubility is not ideal and production costs are high.

The findings of this study were published in the science journal PNAS. The Science Daily news report notes that different companies have already shown interest in the results.

Source: Science Daily