Salty spray could treat cystic fibrosis
People with cystic fibrosis may soon be treated with a salt water spray to ease their condition after a study found it to be highly effective.The treatment involved inhaling a salt water aerosol solution almost twice as salty as the Atlantic Ocean.People with cystic fibrosis have a defective gene responsible for transporting salts and water around the body. The spray works by coating airway surfaces with a thin lubricant layer of water, which sufferers don’t have.The study by Australian scientists was reported in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine.It supports previous short-term studies which suggested that hypertonic saline stimulates mucus clearance from the lungs and increases hydration of the airway surface.
Most common inherited disorder
Cystic fibrosis is the most common inherited disorder in the UK, and causes chronic lung damage due to the build up of excessive amounts of sticky mucus. One in every 2,500 babies is born with cystic fibrosis.Dr Peter Bye from the University of Sydney and colleagues in Australia conducted a 48-week study in which 162 patients were split and treated with seven-percent saline or 0.9-percent (normal) saline.After inhaling the saline with the seven per cent salt concentration, the cystic fibrosis patients saw improvements in lung function and a reduction in pulmonary flare-ups within four weeks.Thereafter their lung function plateaued but remained better than the control group.Inhaled hypertonic saline “is an inexpensive, safe, additional therapy in patients with cystic fibrosis,” Bye’s team concluded.