Cystic Fibrosis

The organs affected by Cystic Fibrosis. Permission for use of this photo obtained from National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Evan Morgan
University of New Hampshire at Manchester
Fall 2012

Cystic fibrosis is a life-threatening disease passed down genetically that causes thick, sticky mucus to build up in the lungs, digestive tract, and other areas of the body. If one is inflicted with the disease, they are estimated to have a life expectancy of about thirty-five years (Palca, 1994). It is the most common disorder in Caucasians occurring at a rate of one in two thousand and approximately one is twenty Americans is a carrier of the disease, carrying one mutant copy (Palca, 1994). It is also one of the most prevalent chronic lung diseases in children and adolescents. The disorder is caused by a mutation in cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator (CFTR) protein.

If you've ever known someone with asthma, you know that when an attack comes that breathing can become extremely difficult and things can get pretty scary. Like those with asthma, individuals with cystic fibrosis have to deal with constant breathing difficulty caused by the lining of the lungs with thick mucus. The gene that causes this disease was identified in 1989 by a group of scientists but the protein was not understood. At that time an individual that suffered from this disorder expected to live no more than thirty years. Doctors and researchers around the world are actively searching for methods to help ease the pain caused by this disease. More than twenty years later and many scientific innovations later, scientists now understand the protein that the gene creates but are still investigating ways to treat the illness.

Throughout this website we will investigate several questions...

What is the cause of cystic fibrosis?

What are the treatments? Is gene therapy possible for individuals with cystic fibrosis?

Is the CFTR gene conserved in other species?

The Gene & How it Causes Problems...>>


How does the gene work?

Diagnosis & Treatment