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New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients

Airways remained clear and moist in studies, researcher says

MONDAY, May 18 (HealthDay News) -- A new aerosol spray may help keep the airways of cystic fibrosis patients moist and clear, researchers say.

Using a special agent called GS-9411, the spray prevents sodium from being absorbed too quickly, which is a common problem for people with cystic fibrosis. The quick absorption of sodium from the surface of the airway causes their airways to dry, and allows mucous and bacteria to accumulate.

In tests on airway surface cells grown in a laboratory, GS-9411 helped the cells retain moisture for more than eight hours while tests on animals found the spray helped clear excessive mucus for at least four hours.

The findings were presented Sunday at the American Thoracic Society's annual international conference in San Diego.

"GS-9411 administered by aerosol can effectively increase airway surface liquid and enhance mucous clearance in an animal model," study author Andrew Hirsh, senior director of drug discovery and preclinical development for Parion Sciences, a pharmaceutical company, said in a news release. "The results demonstrate that GS-9411 warrants further investigation as a new drug therapy to decrease respiratory infection and improve pulmonary function."

In cystic fibrosis, a genetic defect causes the airway to absorb sodium, and therefore moisture, too quickly. When the airway is too dry, the body can't clear mucus, a key defense mechanism of the respiratory system, Hirsh said. This deficiency can cause cystic fibrosis patients to have chronic respiratory infection and impaired lung function, he explained.

"The potency and the length of time that the drug was effective in cells and in animal studies was an outstanding feature that distinguishes this compound from other agents," he said.

More information

The March of Dimes has more about cystic fibrosis.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: American Thoracic Society, news release, May 17, 2009

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