Finding new paths in the treatment of cystic fibrosis

  • Cystic fibrosis has effects on the lungs that are aggravated by oxidative stress, which degrades cells and tissues.
  • A research group from IDIBELL has identified genes relevant to the oxidative stress response that could help design new treatments for cystic fibrosis.
  • In the same research, they have identified some already-commercialized drugs that could be beneficial for this and other chronic respiratory diseases.
NO119 - JM Aran_Antioxidants - Imatge

Cystic fibrosis is the most common inherited disease in the Caucasian population. It is caused by a genetic mutation that inflicts damage to the airways, among other effects. Airways dehydrate and produce a much stickier mucus that traps pathogens more easily, leading to recurrent infections and inflammation, which ends up being a chronic problem in people with cystic fibrosis. 

Effects on the respiratory tract induce an increase in reactive oxygen species, unstable molecules that attack everything around them and cause oxidative stress. Oxidative stress degrades cells and tissues and reduces the effectiveness of defences against external aggression, thereby favouring infections and inflammation. In this regard, cells activate a very complex genetically regulated protective response. 

A scientific study by the IDIBELL research group on Immunoinflammatory Processes and Gene Therapy with the support of the Bioinformatics Unit has conducted an analysis with the aim of finding new genes and regulators related to the response to oxidative stress. They have identified several genes and regulators that play an important role in this, and therefore they would be possible candidates for designing new therapies. Besides, the same research also looked for commercialized drugs that could help fight oxidative stress using the identified genes. This project has received funding from the Catalan Association of Cystic Fibrosis (ACFQ). 

“These drugs, alone or in combination with current treatments, could benefit patients with cystic fibrosis by preventing accelerated lung degradation, which is one of the worst effects of the disease,” said Dr Josep Maria Aran, leader of this work, “but these are preliminary results, we need to do more controlled experiments and clinical trials in order to bring this into practice.” 



The Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) is a biomedical research center created in 2004. It is participated by the Bellvitge University Hospital and the Viladecans Hospital of the Catalan Institute of Health, the Catalan Institute of Oncology, the University of Barcelona and the City Council of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat.

IDIBELL is a member of the Campus of International Excellence of the University of Barcelona HUBc and is part of the CERCA institution of the Generalitat de Catalunya. In 2009 it became one of the first five Spanish research centers accredited as a health research institute by the Carlos III Health Institute. In addition, it is part of the “HR Excellence in Research” program of the European Union and is a member of EATRIS and REGIC. Since 2018, IDIBELL has been an Accredited Center of the AECC Scientific Foundation (FCAECC).

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