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Cystic fibrosis research on hold

6th June 2011

UK scientists have said there has been a delay to groundbreaking research into cystic fibrosis because of funding problems.

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The researchers had hoped to start a trial in the summer of this year in order to test how gene therapy could be used to offer protection to patients' lungs from being damaged.

The team were shortlisted for the Medical Futures Innovation Awards, which recognise innovative new treatments.

The researchers said their plans to carry out the biggest trial of its kind in the world to date have had to be put back due to lack of funding.

The team have a shortfall of six million pounds and need to find the money in order to carry out the trial.

The UK CF Gene Therapy Consortium has spent the last decade looking at a new method of treating cystic fibrosis, which is due to a faulty gene that is responsible for how salt and water move through cells.

The majority of people with the disease die because of damage caused to lungs when internal organs become covered in infection-causing mucus.

The researchers have discovered a way to deliver drops which contain healthy genes into the lungs.

Professor Eric Alton, the head of the project, said if the research does not get new backing then it could fall apart.

"This project cannot be parked. If we do not get the funding patients will become more unwell. Some will die. A huge amount of hope and effort and science has been invested in this."

Most of the the trail's £30 million funding has been from the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, but the charity has seen a decline in the amount of donations by the public.

The charity's chief executive, Matthew Reed, said it was keen to join up with a commercial partner.

"Cystic fibrosis undermines the quality and length of life," he explained.

"This is a really significant moment in the history of the disease. We are very close to a clinical trial to test for efficacy. A lot of people are doing all they can to make it happen," he said.

 

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