Red Tide Algae Could Help Cystic Fibrosis Patients

Published: Jan. 14, 2005 at 1:34 AM CST|Updated: Dec. 14, 2014 at 12:42 AM CST
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Encouraging news to patients who suffer from cystic fibrosis. Marine biologists studying Florida red tides have discovered that the toxic red tide algae known for poisoning fish also produces good chemicals called anti-toxins. In a published report, the research team led by Daniel Baden at The Center for Marine Science Research indicates the antitoxins cleared the excess mucus out of the lungs of sheep.

It's a big deal because it's that thick mucus in the lungs that can get out of control in patients. "There is a profound increase in the degree of clearance of mucus from the lungs. One could envision again from an inhaler that the cystic fibrosis patients could use a drug very similar to this to actually help in clearing their lungs," says Baden.

Baden says the red tide antitoxin moves salts smoothly through channels in the lungs, thinning the mucus. So, the finding is promising, but Baden says developing the anti-toxin into an actual cystic fibrosis drug for the mass market could take 10 years.

Researchers are hoping the red tide anti-toxin will allow cystic fibrosis patients to put aside the big nebulizers they need to breathe and replace them with little inhalers, similar to the ones used by asthma patients. For more information ( click here ).