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Study brings hope for cystic fibrosis patients.

Byline: Lisa Hutchinson Reporter

WORLD-RENOWNED scientists led by experts in Newcastle are pioneering research which will help thousands of patients.

Top medics at Newcastle University are leading a new study to investigate how genetic defects responsible for cystic fibrosis increase blood sugar levels.

The North East research could help sufferers across the world put an end to their nightmare.

The research is being carried out in collaboration with Ulster University, Northern Ireland; Lund University in Sweden, the University of Szeged in Hungary, and the University of Iowa, USA.

Cystic fibrosis-related diabetes (CFRD) is unique and has a different mechanism to Type 1 and Type 2. While the cause is unknown, the development of the diabetes accelerates lung disease, which is the main reason for death among people with CF.

Discovering how the defective gene affects the body's ability to regulate insulin levels is crucial to working out how to prevent diabetes from developing. It is hoped that the research, which includes CF and diabetes specialists in the UK, Europe and USA, will identify treatment options for CF patients to help prevent diabetes and improve life expectancy.

James Shaw, professor of regenerative medicine for diabetes at Newcastle University and honorary consultant physician specialising in diabetes at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, is spearheading the international collaboration. He said: "This pioneering research project is extremely exciting as it brings together leading scientists from the fields of diabetes and CF, something that has not happened before. Given the significant, detrimental impact of CFRD on lung function and life expectancy for patients with CF, better understanding of these processes is urgently needed.

"Our research has the potential to identify new treatment options that could enable the majority of CF patients to live longer and healthier lives."

CF is a life-shortening genetic condition that causes lungs to become clogged with mucus, making it hard to breathe.

Each day two people die from the disease. On average, patients do not live beyond their mid-30s.

The PS750,000 study, funded by the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, will run for three years. The trust is hopeful that this research will have a significant impact on the lives of people living with CF in the future.

Dr Mike Gray, reader in cellular physiology at Newcastle University, who is deputy co-ordinator of this project, said: "This research could lead to the development of new approaches to help limit the impact of CFRD on the lives of people with CF, and we are very grateful to the trust and its supporters for the award."

As many as 2.5 million people in the UK carry the faulty gene that causes the illness. Approximately 50% of adults living with CF have diabetes.

Dr Michael White, research associate at Newcastle University, who will be involved in the project, said: "Having a collaboration like this, on such a large scale, doesn't usually happen.

"This is something we're delighted to be involved with as it will allow us to develop a greater understanding of CFRD."

Ruth Trigger, of Newton Hall, Durham, was diagnosed with CFRD more than a decade ago.

The 23-year-old says she is delighted that a new scientific study is being carried out to allow experts to gain a better understanding into the complex condition.

She said: "I'm excited about this new study.

"It's great to hear that researchers are focusing on helping people with CFRD as it could benefit patients in the future.

"Managing CFRD is a fine balancing act as the treatment for CF can negatively impact on the diabetes and vice versa.

"Some days are easier than others. "The more research that goes on the better, as it means that one day scientists might be able to identify a way to put an end to cystic fibrosisrelated diabetes."

Collaboration like this, on such a large scale, doesn't usually happen. We're delightedDr Michael White


Ruth Trigger, who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis-related diabetes more than a decade ago, says the research is exciting
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Aug 5, 2016
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