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November 9, 1984

Cystic fibrosis research looks promising

JAMA. 1984;252(18):2521-2526. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03350180003002

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What other cystic fibrosis research efforts are likely to bear fruit in the next several years? As the recent international cystic fibrosis congress in Brighton, England, indicated, promising work includes efforts to find prenatal and neonatal diagnostic tests, which are currently not clinically available; to use heart-lung transplants to successfully treat patients with severely diseased lungs; and to identify the gene responsible for cystic fibrosis.

The prenatal diagnostic test for cystic fibrosis would measure the activity of the enzyme α-phosphatase in amniotic fluid. Researchers reason that, if cystic fibrosis is a disease of epithelial cells, particularly of epithelial cells in the airways and sweat glands (please see accompanying story), epithelial cell membrane enzymes in fetuses affected with cystic fibrosis might differ in activity from those in healthy fetuses. If they do, such a difference in activity might be used to detect the affected fetuses.

David Brock, PhD, director of the