Can Someone PLEASE Make Sense of the Latest CF Research?! It’s Gobbledygook!

I know. I know—nobody likes sifting through a bunch of scientific research “shtuff.” I sure don’t—especially when they don’t dumb it down for a layperson to understand.

But when we’re dealing with chronic rare diseases, I think it’s important to try to comprehend in order to help raise awareness. Why? Because “awareness” increases the chances to develop effective treatments, right?

Take Cystic Fibrosis (CF) for example, a rare genetic disease.

Now, I don’t know about how familiar you are with CF, because by no means am I an expert, but I do know some children, as well as adults, who have it. For this reason, I’m always feeling like I want to help raise awareness whenever I can.

So I’d like to share some highlights of an article that I read Candida Albicans Research Offers Hope for Treating Cystic Fibrosis / GEN News Highlights, which links back to the original article Fungus with a Defense Against Bacteria Observed in Cystic Fibrosis Study.

But ohhhh man, it’s hard to fathom exactly what the takeaways were from their findings—they found some interesting things, maybe, but how will that benefit the CF community?

I’m scratching my head.

Uh, here’s background information on the study, cystic fibrosis, and Candida albicans:

  1. Scientists studying the lungs of some CF patients identified a fungal microbiome and discovered a genetic basis showing how the fungus adapts when exposed to certain kinds of bacteria. Keep in mind that people with CF are extremely susceptible to fungus and bacteria—think of fungus and bacteria as opportunistic bad guys. One such “outlaw” fungus is Candida albicans. And people with CF commonly have Candida albicans, which tends to be a sign of deteriorating lung function.
  2. The immune systems of healthy people tend to be able to fight Candida albicans off, but for people with compromised immune systems, it’s scary. Without targeted anti-fungal treatments, this fungus morphs, spreads, and can lead to death in severe cases.
  3. As scientists were examining these fungi, they noticed they were morphing (in an unexpected way) in the patients’ lungs, and then they identified the presence of a deadly bacteria known as Pseudomonas.
  4. But the bizzarre thing is, the scientists theorized that when a fungus like Candida albicans encounter bacteria, it’s not quite a big shootout at the O.K. Corral.  Instead, it’s more like Captain Kirk asking Scotty to raise the shields. In other words, Candida albicans shield themselves from the bacteria, a kind of defense mechanism of sorts.
  5. And now, this same group of scientists are studying the role of these fungi even closer in CF patients, hoping to one day learn how fungi impacts other patients with compromised immune systems.

Can you make better sense of this study? Will this lead to better targeted CF treatments? Or are these scientists going down the wrong rabbit hole?

Last thought of the day: Ohhhhh, it’s so frustrating that developing effective treatments takes so long!

Alisha Stone

Alisha Stone

Alisha Stone has a BA in psychology and is dedicated to improving the lives of others living with chronic illnesses.

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