May 20, 2009

Drug promising as cystic fibrosis therapy

U.S. pharmaceutical researchers say a new sodium channel blocker is showing promise as a potential treatment for cystic fibrosis.

Scientists who developed the drug at Parion Sciences Inc. in Durham, N.C., said cystic fibrosis patients could benefit from the medication that increases airway hydration and prevents the buildup of mucous.

Our results suggest that we have identified a new agent that acts directly on a specific pathway, which is involved in the development of cystic fibrosis, Andrew Hirsh, Parion's senior director of drug discovery and preclinical development, said. "Cystic fibrosis patients have a genetic ion transport defect, which decreases the hydration level on the airway surface and therefore reduces the body's ability to effectively clear mucous, which is a primary defense mechanism of the respiratory system.

Diminished mucous clearance leads to chronic respiratory infection and impaired pulmonary function, Hirsh added. Currently there are no therapies available to specifically target this channel in patients with cystic fibrosis.

The research was presented Sunday during the American Thoracic Society's 105th International Conference in San Diego.