(Bethesda, MD) -- An observation by surfers in Australia has led to a simple, inexpensive hypertonic saline therapy. This concentrated saltwater solution improves airway clearance for patients with cystic fibrosis (CF), according to research reported in the Jan. 19 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
The idea for the study, supported by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, began when the Australian surfers with CF told their doctors that their
CF is one of the most common fatal
“Our team was delighted with the
Some 164 patients from 16 adult or pediatric hospitals in Australia participated in the double-blind, parallel-group trial. The hypertonic saline study was conducted between September 2000 and November 2003.
For the experimental treatments, patients were first given a bronchodilator. Then the volunteers were assigned randomly to inhale through a nebulizer either 4 ml of 7 percent hypertonic saline (experimental) or 0.9 percent saline (control), twice daily for 48 weeks. A nebulizer is a medical device that delivers liquid medication in the form of a mist to the airways.
Researchers found that study participants who were given hypertonic saline had fewer
“This innovative new therapy is just one of the many novel CF treatments we have in our drug discovery and development pipeline,” said Robert J. Beall, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. He added, “When researchers proposed this study to us, we were eager to provide support to evaluate the treatment as safe and effective, then get it quickly to CF patients.”
In addition to the U.S. Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, this study was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia and the Australian Cystic Fibrosis Research Trust.
The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, headquartered in Bethesda, Md., is a donor-supported, nonprofit organization committed to finding therapies and ultimately a cure for CF, and to improving the lives of those with the disease. CF is a life-threatening, genetic disease that can lead to fatal lung infections and digestive problems.