Cystic Fibrosis: Wipe Out Lung Infections


ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire)— There are more than 30,000 Americans living with cystic fibrosis, an inherited condition that causes the lungs to fill with thick mucus. Patients with CF are also prone to chronic lung infections, which are tough to treat and can destroy the tissue in their lungs.

It’s a tiny micro-organism with a long name…

“We are focused right now on mycobacterium abscessus,” explained Kyle Rohde, PhD, UCF College of Medicine.

(Read Full Interview)

Or MAB, for short. MAB causes life-threatening tuberculosis-like infections in people with cystic fibrosis.

“There’s a lot of these pathogens that don’t normally cause infections in healthy people that have a functioning immune system, but the complications that come along with cystic fibrosis make them susceptible to these opportunistic pathogens,” continued Rohde.

Rohde and his colleagues at University of Central Florida are studying the bacteria—first to understand how MAB becomes resistant to existing antibiotics.

“We often will see people that are infected with abscessus for five, six, seven years, and they’re trying different treatments to just keep it at bay and then it comes back again,” Rohde said.

The scientists are using gene silencing techniques to see if turning off one of the genes makes the bacteria harmless. Rohde says researchers could then develop a drug that wipes out the bacteria in a similar way, helping CF patients recover without further damaging their lungs.

Professor Rohde says right now, CF patients with the MAB infections have only about a 50 percent chance of being cured with existing antibiotics.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Executive Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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REPORT:       MB #4923

BACKGROUND: Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an inherited disorder that causes severe damage to the lungs, digestive system and other organs in the body. Cystic fibrosis affects the cells that produce mucus, sweat and digestive juices. Signs of it include shortness of breathing or poor growth or weight gain despite a healthy diet. For men this infection can affect their ability to have children. People with this infection have a higher than normal level of salt in their sweat. Most of the other signs and symptoms of CF affect the respiratory system and digestive system. Some people have serious problems from birth. Others have a milder version of the disease that doesn’t show up until they are teens or young adults. Sometimes you will have few symptoms, but later you may have more symptoms.


CURRENT TREATMENT: As of now there is no cure to this infection however there are treatments for it. Managing the treatment is complex as the plans can contain many of the same elements but are tailored to everyone’s unique circumstances. So, consider getting treatment at a center with a multispecialty team of doctors and medical professionals trained in CF to evaluate and treat your condition. Treatments such as medications, airway clearance techniques, pulmonary rehabilitation and surgical are just some of the treatments used to manage the infection.


NEW TECHNOLOGY: Dr. Kyle Rohde, an infectious disease researcher at the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Central Florida, is working to develop more effective therapeutics to fight MAB and recently received a $200,000 grant from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to advance his research. The goal of his funded research is to develop more effective drugs to kill the bacteria that can become resistant to existing drugs. Current therapies target the physical structure of the bacteria such as the cell walls. The second phase of the study will test the genetically modified strains of bacteria in animal models with cystic fibrosis symptoms. Dr. Rohde’s research will focus on the genes that control the bacteria’s behavior. His study will use a gene-editing technology known as CRISPRi to weaken or deactivate the bacteria by turning off one or more genes needed for its survival.





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Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Kyle Rohde, PhD, Professor of Biomedical Sciences

Read the entire Q&A