Insights into a new therapy for a rare form of cystic fibrosis

October 29, 2012

Scientists at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto have established that a drug recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat a rare form of cystic fibrosis works in an unconventional way. Their results reveal new possibilities for treating various forms of cystic fibrosis.

is an inherited disease afflicting about 70,000 people around the world. Cystic fibrosis patients carry a that disables or destroys its protein product, which normally regulates the transport of ions across cell borders. When that transport is disrupted, the viscosity of the mucus coating certain organs becomes too thick. A characteristic feature of the disease is buildup in the air passages, which causes difficulty breathing and recurring infections.

While the FDA approved the drug VX-770 (also known by the trade names Kalydeco and Ivacaftor) to ease breathing in people with cystic fibrosis caused by a particular mutation in the (the acronym is short for cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator), exactly how VX-770 worked in those patients was unknown.

Scientists have understood for some time that normal CFTR regulation requires modification of the protein and binding of a small, energy-providing molecule – adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. But, in their recent "Paper of the Week," Christine Bear and colleagues report that the drug opens both normal and mutant CFTR channels without ATP. Their results indicate that the compound binds to a different site on CTFR than ATP. Significantly, this finding may be useful in developing therapies for cystic fibrosis caused by various CFTR mutations that, like the G551D mutation that was studied, impair ATP-mediated channel regulation.

Bear's group determined how VX-770 works after developing a new experimental system that may have potential for discovering drugs that target the basic defects caused by CFTR mutations, Bear says. The system is useful for identifying compounds that interact with rare such as G551D as well as the major CFTR mutant F508del, she said.

Explore further: An 'unconventional' path to correcting cystic fibrosis

Related Stories

An 'unconventional' path to correcting cystic fibrosis

September 1, 2011

Researchers have identified an unconventional path that may correct the defect underlying cystic fibrosis, according to a report in the September 2nd issue of the journal Cell. This new treatment dramatically extends the ...

New insights into functionality of cystic fibrosis protein

September 26, 2012

CFTR is an important protein that, when mutated, causes the life-threatening genetic disease cystic fibrosis. A study in The Journal of General Physiology (JGP) details how an accidental discovery has provided new understanding ...

Recommended for you

Biologists identify mechanisms of embryonic wound repair

August 31, 2015

It's like something out of a science-fiction movie - time-lapse photography showing how wounds in embryos of fruit flies heal themselves. The images are not only real; they shed light on ways to improve wound recovery in ...

New 'Tissue Velcro' could help repair damaged hearts

August 28, 2015

Engineers at the University of Toronto just made assembling functional heart tissue as easy as fastening your shoes. The team has created a biocompatible scaffold that allows sheets of beating heart cells to snap together ...

Fertilization discovery: Do sperm wield tiny harpoons?

August 26, 2015

Could the sperm harpoon the egg to facilitate fertilization? That's the intriguing possibility raised by the University of Virginia School of Medicine's discovery that a protein within the head of the sperm forms spiky filaments, ...

Research identifies protein that regulates body clock

August 26, 2015

New research into circadian rhythms by researchers at the University of Toronto Mississauga shows that the GRK2 protein plays a major role in regulating the body's internal clock and points the way to remedies for jet lag ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.