Cystic fibrosis is a
genetic disorder that is known to affect several organs of the body,
particularly the lungs, liver, pancreas and the intestine. While this condition
is actually quite rare, it is also the most widespread life-shortening genetic
Now, a team of
researchers has come across a new possible treatment option for this
debilitating condition. A medication derived from Norwegian seaweed could help
improve life expectancy (around 40 years) in patients suffering from cystic
. It is believed that purified alginate, which is a
carbohydrate found on the walls of sea plants acts as an active ingredient that
helps break down the sticky mucus that comes along as a symptom in cystic
This mucus is believed
to be one of the major reasons that causes mortality in patients affected by
this condition; it tends to cause problems in digestion
, and makes the lungs
more prone to infections.
promises hope to the thousands of families desperate for an effective treatment
for CF," says Ed Owen, chief executive of UK charity Cystic Fibrosis Trust.
"Life expectancy has improved in recent years but it's unacceptable that half
of patients still won't see their 40th birthday."
Alginate is already in
use in several OTC medications for heartburn, and also sometimes as a food thickener.
For all those worrying about the possible health risks associated with its use,
here's a fact- a recent trial has confirmed alginate to be safe for use, and
apparently has no side effects whatsoever. However, further study is still
needed to confirm its use as a drug.
It is speculated that
the new drug that will incorporate alginate extracts will be administered in a
way similar to asthma drugs- by inhaling. It could also possibly reduce the
dependency on antibiotic
medications to deal
with lung infections, which are common among cystic fibrosis patients.
This new drug seems to
be extremely promising considering the fact that antibiotic resistance is a
major concern today.
Dr Janet Allen,
director of research for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, adds: 'We aren't talking
about a cure, but there is a very real possibility it will soon become a
manageable illness, on a par with type 1