The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation announced today that it will commit at least $100 million over the next five years as part of a sweeping effort to address the chronic and intractable infections that are a hallmark of cystic fibrosis. The Infection Research Initiative is a comprehensive approach to improve outcomes associated with infections through enhanced detection, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment.
“Infection is a leading cause of loss of lung function among patients with CF and, as a result, frequent and long-term use of anti-infectives is often a necessary burden of managing the disease. Even with the introduction of highly effective disease-modifying therapies, we estimate that approximately half of the CF population may continue to require improved anti-infective treatments in 20 years,” said William R. Skach, M.D., senior vice president of research affairs for the CF Foundation. “A comprehensive approach is needed to make meaningful progress against this complex challenge, and we have set out a bold agenda in research and drug development to drive advances that will help enable people with CF to live full and healthy lives.”
Preston W. Campbell, III, M.D., president and CEO of the CF Foundation added, “Advances in care have drastically increased both life expectancy and quality of life for people with CF -- today, many people in our community are reaching milestones we never thought possible. Through this initiative, we are committed to transforming diagnosis and treatment of infections just as we have done in other areas of CF care.”
Dr. Skach announced the initiative at the North American Cystic Fibrosis Conference (NACFC) in Denver to an audience of more than 5,000 leaders in CF research and care. The effort more than doubles the Foundation's previous investment in this area over the last five years.
Widespread Problem, Significant Burden of Disease
Infections take a significant physical and mental toll on people with CF and remain a top concern of both patients and clinicians. People with CF who have chronic infections are at greater risk for worsening lung disease and death. Many individuals also suffer severe side effects from long-term antibiotic use, such as hearing loss, and are at increased risk of developing antibiotic-resistant infections.
The vast majority of people with CF experience complications from infections with microorganisms (such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi). Along with Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P. aeruginosa) (44.6 percent prevalence), other challenging bacteria can include Achromobacter (5.8 percent prevalence), Burkholderia cepacia (B. cepacia) (2.4 percent prevalence), and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) (25 percent prevalence). Nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) infections are also becoming increasingly common in people with CF and can be associated with rapid decline in lung function.
A Far-Reaching Approach
The Infection Research Initiative will take a broad approach to advancing research into CF-related microorganisms, including:
- Identifying new ways to detect microorganisms and diagnose infections
- Enhancing understanding of CF microorganisms and how they are acquired
- Supporting the development of safe and effective treatments, including antibiotics, antivirals, and antifungals
- Optimizing current treatments to improve outcomes and minimize treatment burden
- Evaluating the impact of long-term or frequent, intermittent antimicrobial use
- Understanding how infections are influenced by disease-modifying treatments
The effort builds on a significant body of work that is already underway: In 2017, the Foundation awarded $17.3 million in funding across more than 120 different projects, including more than 10 discovery and development programs with industry.
Jess Rowlands, senior director of communications and media