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Breakthrough on cystic fibrosis 1 step closer as new research alliance formed
Date:1/27/2011

McGill University and GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK) have signed a collaboration agreement to develop a potential breakthrough approach to treat cystic fibrosis, a fatal genetic disease. The trans-Atlantic effort between researchers from McGill's Faculty of Medicine and their GSK collaborators in the UK, will focus on developing molecules that could treat the disease by correcting the dysfunction caused by the mutated gene. This revolutionary approach will be a departure from current treatments, which only manage the symptoms or complications of the disorder. The collaborative research is co-sponsored by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is one of the most common fatal genetic diseases. It is a multi-organ disease but primarily affects the lungs and digestive system, causing mucous to thicken and leaving patients at higher risk of infections. CF is caused by a mutation in the gene for the protein cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR). About 90 per cent of those living with cystic fibrosis have a particular mutant form of this gene, which makes a protein that could still work but has a defect that prevents it getting to the right place in the cell to function correctly.

Dr. David Thomas, Chair of McGill's Department of Biochemistry and Canada Research Chair in Molecular Genetics, is an expert in protein quality control. Dr. John Hanrahan is Professor in McGill's Department of Physiology and an expert in chloride transport and epithelial biology. They are uniquely qualified as lead investigators on McGill's side, having conducted extensive research on the CFTR protein and have identified a number of molecules that look to restore normal CFTR function.

"If we can restore normal function to the mutant cystic fibrosis protein, we can radically transform the lives of millions of children. It will move us from treatment of symptoms to prevention of the disease and would ultimately save
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Contact: Allison Flynn
allison.j.flynn@mcgill.ca
514-398-7698
McGill University
Source:Eurekalert

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