A new report published this week at the annual UK Cystic Fibrosis Conference (UKCFC) has revealed life-changing breakthroughs.
The report reveals pioneering digital health care, tackling superbugs and treating the underlying cause of cystic fibrosis (CF) has been made possible thanks to nearly £20m of investment from fundraisers since the Cystic Fibrosis Trust launched its first research strategy in 2013.
The first-ever Research Impact Report published by the Cystic Fibrosis Trust sets out how investing £18.4 million in 91 research grants has helped support the work of 138 researchers and attract world-leading professors to apply their skills and expertise to tackle specific issues in CF research.
Crucially it shows that Cystic Fibrosis Trust-funded research has led to over 200 publications to date since 2013, each moving scientists a step closer to improving and extending the lives of people with cystic fibrosis. And from the £18.4 million we invested in CF research, an additional £34.9m has been leveraged from external partners.
Dr Lucy Allen, Director of Research at the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, said:
“This Research Impact Report shows the momentum in cystic fibrosis research that we’ve built over the last eight years, but it is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what we can and what we want to achieve to improve the lives of everyone with CF in the future. The UK CF Conference has highlighted some of the fantastic research underway, which we hope will have a lasting impact on all people with cystic fibrosis. But, despite the huge steps we’ve made with ground-breaking new treatments, there is still much more to be done.
“Key areas of focus for the future include finding treatments for people who won’t benefit from the new drugs to correct the faulty CF protein or CF gene. As well as increasing the use of digital health care – home monitoring to assess health. This area of research has rapidly accelerated because of how the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has restricted the number of CF patients from attending hospital appointments, and we want to see this grow even further.”
The report also shows that researchers funded by the Cystic Fibrosis Trust are leading the fight against superbugs, which some experts say is the next global health crisis waiting to happen. People with CF are also the most at risk of fungal, viral and bacterial infections such as Mycobacterium abscessus. These can develop and thrive in the thick, sticky mucus which forms in their lungs. And, in partnership with the University of Cambridge, the Cystic Fibrosis Trust set up the UK CF Innovation Hub in 2018 to improve and enhance lung health for people with CF. Researchers at the Hub are attempting to detect infections sooner, develop better treatments and ultimately prevent irreversible lung damage.
Professor Andres Floto, Principal Investigator at the University of Cambridge, said:
“It was a huge amount of work from a large, multidisciplinary team to generate the evidence that M. abscessus is transmitted from person to person, but it was a game-changer for the way that we manage our clinics. M. abscessus is a devastating infection for people with CF, and we have to do anything we can to stop more people from contracting it.”
Dr Lucy Allen added:
“This is an exciting time for cystic fibrosis research. Going forward, the Trust will continue to put people with CF at the heart of its research, from setting research priorities to making funding decisions. We won’t stop until there are lifesaving medicines for all and will continue to fund pioneering work to push the boundaries of cystic fibrosis care.”