Workshop shines light on cystic fibrosis research

Ahead of Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Week, the Institute of Integrative Biology recently hosted a workshop on pioneering research to tackle gastrointestinal problems in cystic fibrosis.

The workshop, chaired by Professor Soraya Shirazi-Beechey, brought together delegates from the Cystic Fibrosis Trust as well as researchers from the Universities of Liverpool, Bristol, Sheffield,  Erasmus University Medical Centre in Rotterdam, Hannover Medical School, Sheffield Children’s Hospital and Wirral University Teaching Hospital.

The Cystic Fibrosis Trust funded project is investigating ways to prevent blockages in the gut of people with cystic fibrosis by increasing the levels of fluid in the gut to help move digested food along more easily.

Slowed movement of digested food through the gut frequently leads to constipation and blockages (called distal intestinal obstructive syndrome or DIOS) that require hospital treatment and even surgery in people with cystic fibrosis. Existing treatments are limited in their success.  It is estimated that 1 in 20 people living with cystic fibrosis experience DIOS.

Dr Jennifer Kelly said: “In our research we aim to test a new approach to treating DIOS, using a group of already licensed drugs to rehydrate the gut and reduce blockages, with the aim of reducing DIOS.  It’s an exciting study as this is the first time researchers have used these type of drugs before to treat or prevent DIOS.”

Prof Shirazi-Beechey, Principal Investigator for this Strategic Research Centre, said: “It was a great honour to host our first annual meeting.  This project is special because we hope to run a clinical trial on the best treatment, with the aim of a real breakthrough in the fight to restore digestive comfort to everyone with cystic fibrosis.”

Dr Paula Sommer, Head of Research at the Cystic Fibrosis Trust said: “We’re very pleased to see the progress of this SRC and the potential impact on the lives of people with cystic fibrosis. This meeting is quite timely as this week also marks the most important fundraising event in the Trust’s calendar; our annual CF Week, where we share the work we are doing with the cystic fibrosis community, including the incredible research being undertaken by teams across the country like the DIOS Strategic Research Centre”.