Healthy Living

Cystic Fibrosis Treatments on the Horizon

Cystic Fibrosis Treatments on the Horizon

Cystic Fibrosis Treatments on the Horizon

Despite the fact that there is currently no known cure for cystic fibrosis, therapeutic treatments, medications and surgical procedures have been designed and implemented to increase life expectancy and the quality of life for those who have been diagnosed with this chronic disease.

One possible treatment is drawing a lot of attention in the cystic fibrosis community: the use of nitric oxide to treat antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections due to Pseudomonas aeruginosa.


Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a common, rod-shaped bacterium that can cause disease in plants and animals, including humans. P. aeruginosa is a multi-drug resistant pathogen, recognized for its omnipresence, its intrinsically advanced antibiotic resistance mechanisms and its association with serious illnesses, such as some forms of pneumonia and a range of sepsis syndromes. It is considered an opportunistic organism, as serious infections often occur in the presence of other diseases or conditions—especially cystic fibrosis.

It can be found in soil, water, skin flora and most man-made environments throughout the world. It thrives not only in normal atmospheric conditions, but in low-oxygen atmospheres as well. P. aeruginosa thrives on moist surfaces and can be found on just about any surface. The bacterium can utilize a wide range of organic material for food; in mammals this versatility enables it to easily infect damaged tissues or those with reduced immunity, such as individuals with cystic fibrosis.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa and CF

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is one of the most common and most detrimental bacteria found in those diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, nearly half of all people living with cystic fibrosis have Pseudomonas.
Research has shown that patients with cystic fibrosis can contract P. aeruginosa from others who are infected with the bacteria. These pathogens can spread via direct contact, like kissing a carrier, or indirect contact, such as handling objects that another infected individual has touched, like doorknobs or countertops. For many with CF, a P. aeruginosa infection cannot be directly traced back to exposure to an infected person, but is believed to have occurred by coming into contact with Pseudomonas in the natural environment.

P. aeruginosa infections are difficult to treat, because it is a resilient and resistant infectious agent. P. aeruginosa infections often become chronic and many times, fatal. In its early stages of infection, when the pathogen is most susceptible to antimicrobials, inhaled prophylactic antibiotics can assist in reducing bacterial numbers.

However, the prevalence of antibiotic resistance has led researchers and doctors to forge new treatment protocols to control Pseudomonas aeruginosa in cystic fibrosis patients.

Read on to learn more about how this dangerous infection can be fought in cystic fibrosis patients.