Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disease characterized by the buildup of sticky and thick mucus inside the body that can potentially damage the organs (US NLM, 2012). The two most common signs of Cystic Fibrosis are damaged respiratory system and chronic digestive problems. The severity varies among the affected individuals. The disease is most common among Caucasian people (1 in every 2,500 newborns) and most rare among the Asians (1 in every 31,000 newborns) (US NLM, 2012).
Cystic Fibrosis produces thick mucus that can block the airways in the lungs, leading to bacterial infection and severe breathing problem. Over time, this mucus buildup can permanently damage lungs (CFF, 2014). This thick mucus can also block the ducts of the pancreas, preventing the enzymes of the pancreas from entering the liver and small intestine. Without the supply of enzyme proteins, food items are not digested properly, causing diarrhea, malnutrition and rapid weight loss. Most men with cystic fibrosis cannot become father as the thick mucus blocks the tubes that carry sperm. Women with cystic fibrosis have a high chance of complication during pregnancy (US NLM, 2012).
Cystic Fibrosis is originated from the mutations in the CFTR gene (Pearson, 2009). Even 20-30 years back, this was a deadly disease, killing most of the afflicted children within the first year after birth. There are still no cures for Cystic Fibrosis, but with the advancements in lung transplantation, pulmonary rehabilitation and gene therapy, the disease is now much less fatal for children. Even there are some good antibiotics like tobramycin, aztreonam and colistin that keep the lung infection in check (Pearson, 2009). The average lifespan of people with Cystic Fibrosis is now increased significantly to 37 to 40 years in the United States (NHLBI, 2014). Hopefully, with more advancements in the gene therapy, a cure for the disease will be available in the near future.
US National Library of Medicine (US NLM). (2012). Cystic Fibrosis. Retrieved on 4th November 2014 from <http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/cystic-fibrosis>
Pearson, H. (2009). Human genetics: One gene, twenty years. Nature. Retrieved on 4th November 2014 from <http://www.nature.com/news/2009/090708/full/460164a.html>
Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF). (2014). About CF. Retrieved on 4th November 2014 from <http://www.cff.org/AboutCF/>
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). (2014). What Is Cystic Fibrosis?. Retrieved on 4th November 2014 from <http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/cf/>