University of Liverpool to lead research on digestive issues in people with cystic fibrosis

Scientists from around the world are being led by the University of Liverpool to look at new ways of dealing with digestive issues in people living with cystic fibrosis (University of Liverpool, 2017).

Cystic fibrosis is an inherited genetic condition that affects over 10,500 people in the UK. Symptoms begin in childhood and slowly progress to destroy the lungs and digestive system. Half of people who die from cystic fibrosis are aged under twenty nine.

Distal intestinal obstructive syndrome (DIOS) is a common issue among people with cystic fibrosis, requiring hospital treatment and even surgery.

Leading charity, the Cystic Fibrosis Trust has launched a new Strategic Research Centre, led by Professor Shirazi-Beechey, from the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Integrative Biology, to find new treatments to prevent DIOS and related intestinal issues for people living with the condition.

Researchers from the academic and medical institutions in the UK, Netherlands, Germany and Israel will combine experience and expertise to find a way of preventing the cells lining the gut from removing as much water and sodium from the digested matter, in order to increase the amount of fluid left to help its flow through the body. To do this, they will use lab-grown mini-guts called organoids.

Professor Shirazi-Beechey, the Principal Investigator, said “I am very grateful to the  Cystic Fibrosis Trust for funding this project. We can’t wait to get started and see how we can apply some exciting new techniques to the issues affecting the digestive system of people with cystic fibrosis, which we know could make a big difference to their lives.”

Dr Paula Sommer, Head of Research at the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, said “This project is special because at the end, researchers hope to run a clinical trial on the best treatment, meaning that we could make real progress in the fight to restore digestive comfort to everyone with cystic fibrosis.”

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