Researchers take aim at cystic fibrosis with Hunt for a Cure support
Discovering new treatments and battling dangerous infections are the focus of Michigan State University research projects targeting the genetic disorder cystic fibrosis, with support provided through a series of grants from Hunt for a Cure, a Grand Rapids-based advocacy organization.
A recent grant of $110,000 brings the total to $400,000 in funding from Hunt for a Cure that has been awarded to MSU researchers since 2009.
Administered by MSU's Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, the four studies take differing approaches in the fight against a genetic disease that causes the body to produce abnormally thick, sticky mucus, leading to life-threatening lung infections. Cystic fibrosis is ranked as one of the most widespread life-shortening genetic diseases. One in 4,000 U.S. children is born with cystic fibrosis.
MSU hosted Hunt for a Cure board members and donors at an information-sharing luncheon held April 18 at MSU’s Secchia Center Rooftop Garden in Grand Rapids. Led by Doug Gage, director of interdisciplinary research for MSU’s Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies, a delegation from the university recognized Hunt for a Cure’s support for cystic fibrosis research at Michigan State.
“We are grateful to Hunt for a Cure for the group’s unwavering commitment to raising awareness and to raising research funds to find a cure for cystic fibrosis,” said Gage, who accepted the nonprofit organization’s most recent grant.
“Hunt for a Cure and MSU have already attained great goals and are on the path to making history as they push forward to find a cure or control for cystic fibrosis,” said Peter Odland, Hunt for a Cure founder and board member. “There is no need to leave Michigan to find leading-edge researchers when you have universities like MSU right here in the state.”
A highlight for all at the luncheon was the series of presentations by four MSU faculty members regarding their research projects funded with previous Hunt for a Cure support:
Martha Mulks, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics: People with cystic fibrosis often experience serious lung infections, one of the worst being caused by the pathogen Burkholderia cenocepacia. Mulks and colleagues study this pathogen’s genes to look for new therapeutic options to prevent and treat infection, as well as to new prognostic indicators.
Bruce Uhal, Department of Physiology: Uhal’s research is a continuation of the original project to establish a cystic fibrosis mouse model at MSU and use it to evaluate the potential of blood pressure drugs to reduce lung infection and tissue remodelling in the cystic fibrosis mouse model. The project now has more data suggesting that one commonly used blood pressure drug, losartan, reduces the activation of an enzyme that damages the lungs of patients with cystic fibrosis.
Chris Waters, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics: With support from Hunt for a Cure, Waters is studying compounds for treating infections in cystic fibrosis patients. The focus is on biofilms, communities of bacteria that are considered the primary barrier to successful treatment with antibiotics of infections in cystic fibrosis patients.
Dana Spence, Department of Chemistry: The Spence research group investigates cystic fibrosis-related diabetes, and preliminary work – supported by Hunt for a Cure – has been promising. A key contributor to this research project is Kristen Entwistle, a first year graduate student at MSU who has cystic fibrosis.
For more information on Hunt for a Cure and its fundraising efforts, visit huntforacure.com.