Cystic fibrosis (CF) is the most common genetically-inherited life-shortening chronic illness affecting young Australians today. A baby is born with cystic fibrosis every four days (Source – Better Health Channel). It primarily affects the respiratory system with recurrent infections and the risk for lung damage long term, among other symptoms.
Mark Wells has benefited greatly from Cystic Fibrosis research and gives back to HMRI with a Mark Wells CF Benefit Concert taking place once every two years.
The role of viral infections in the exacerbation of asthma and airways diseases such as COPD and cystic fibrosis is a research strength for Hunter researchers in the HMRI VIVA research group.
Researchers have successfully studied and trialled a number of new treatments and clinical protocols for cystic fibrosis patients in recent years.
Patients with cystic fibrosis are often advised to eat a high energy diet as the chronic secretions in the airways can impede normal digestion and nutrients are often lost before they have a chance to be absorbed. Therefore the diet of cystic fibrosis patients has been the topic of interest for Hunter researchers, trying to optimise the nutrient intake and capitalise on the anti-inflammatory properties of many foods.
These researchers have found that the antioxidant component in many foods such as fruit and vegetables is very beneficial to patients and this is true for both cystic fibrosis sufferers and asthmatics alike.
Researchers have also successfully trialled an inhaled drug (called interferon-β) in asthmatics which may interfere with viruses in the airways, potentially providing some relief for the persistent infections cystic fibrosis patients suffer from.
Every second year in May, HMRI supports a hallmark fundraiser research into cystic fibrosis. The Mark Wells Benefit Concert has been a roaring success with hundreds of attendees raising funds for research projects.