Healthy Living

The Evolution of Cystic Fibrosis Treatments

The History of Cystic Fibrosis Treatments

The Evolution of Cystic Fibrosis Treatments

Although there is currently no cure for cystic fibrosis, researchers are continuously studying possible treatments that could help alleviate symptoms and make the condition easier to manage. For instance, antibiotics are now used to tackle infections, while bronchodilators are used to help expand the airways of the lungs and allow the freer flow of oxygen. In previous years, children with cystic fibrosis often passed away before reaching adulthood.

Today, thanks to advancements in treatments, a majority of individuals with cystic fibrosis live well into their 40s.

Here is the history of treatments in cystic fibrosis and how they have evolved throughout the years to shape modern treatment approaches. We’ve come a long way, but we still have much longer to go.



  • Sulphadiazine drugs were used to treat certain types of infections but were later perceived to be ineffective.
  • Nebulized penicillin was used to treat chronic coughs.


  • Chlortetracycline and oxytetracycline were used to treat infections.
  • Chlortetracycline and oxytetracycline in combination with erythromycin and chloramphenicol were used to treat more severe infections.


  • IV antibiotics tobramycin and gentamicin were used to treat various types of bacterial infections.


  • A unique formulation of tobramycin was used to treat lung infections.
  • Flucloxacillin was used on a regular basis to treat infections. The Antibiotics Group of the UK CF Trust recommended this drug to be administered continuously for the first two years in children who were born with CF.


  • Cayston, an inhalation solution, is used to fight Pseudomonas.
  • Azithromycin is used to treat chronic bacteria Pseudomonas and severe inflammation.
  • IV antibiotics are used in earlier stages of infections, as opposed to as a last resort.


  • New treatments, such as IV gallium and inhaled nitric oxide, are being tested and showing great promise in antibacterial treatment of CF.
  • Antibiotic formulations, such as Lynovex, are being developed to help treat symptoms of CF.

Mucus thinners and physiotherapy


  • Mist tents were developed with 10% solution of propylene and 3% solution of saline to help expand the airways and allow easier breathing.
  • Oral streptokinase, iodides, and intramuscular or inhaled pancreatic trypsin were used to thin mucus caused by CF.
  • New physiotherapy treatments, such as clapping on the back and pressure vibrations, were used to eliminate mucus from the lungs of CF patients.


  • N-acetylcysteine was administered via inhalation or oral to thin mucus caused by CF.


  • Exercise was mainly recommended to help eliminate mucus from the lungs and improve lung function.
  • Recombinant human Dnase was used to thin mucus caused by CF.

To this day, the evolution of cystic fibrosis as a mutation continues to remain complex. Researchers are still studying its evolutionary role in hopes of finding a link among the years and uncovering a potential cure for cystic fibrosis.

Read on to learn more about advancements in nutritional recommendations, diagnosis, and potential CFTR correctors.