Researchers at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have helped identify a gene that modifies the severity of lung disease in people with cystic fibrosis (CF), a lethal genetic condition.

The findings open the door to possible new targets for treating the lung disease, researchers say.

The study appeared online in advance of print publication in Nature as the first published study to search the entire genome looking for genes that modify CF severity.

"This is a good example of researchers with different expertise coming together and using the knowledge gained from mapping the human genome to make discoveries that improve our understanding of cystic fibrosis," said Carl Langefeld, Ph.D., a study co-author and Wake Forest University School of Medicine researcher. "It may also help in the identification of targets for drug development and the development of tools for the earlier diagnosis of individuals with cystic fibrosis who are susceptible to severe lung disease."

Scientists from UNC's Cystic Fibrosis-Pulmonary Research and Treatment Center and from six other institutions in the United States and Europe were joined by WFU researchers in the study. It was funded by the Wake Forest University Health Sciences Center for Public Health Genomics, the National Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute and the Austrian Science Fund.

Wed, 03/04/2009 - 05:00