Could a change in diet to boost the immune system be helpful for treating cystic fibrosis? Researchers from the Czech Republic are betting on that possibility, and are currently enrolling volunteers for a clinical trial.
Cystic fibrosis is one of the most commonly occurring chronic diseases of the lungs in children and young adults, and can be a life-threatening disorder. Breathing is often difficult for most people with cystic fibrosis, due to a sticky mucus that can build up in the lungs.
High oxidative stress is normally found in patients with cystic fibrosis, which contributes to the development of the disease’s symptoms. Oxidative stress refers to the production of free-radicals — potentially harmful molecules that damage cells — faster than the body can remove them. Nutrition that is healthy to the immune system, or “immunonutrition,” could be a way to combat and soak up free radicals, as immunonutrition seems to reduce oxidative stress in other medical conditions. The approach has not yet been tested in cystic fibrosis.
Led by Dr. Ondrej Hloch of the Motol Hospital in the Czech Republic, the researchers are aiming to study the effects of nutrition in 30 adults with cystic fibrosis. They want to know if it reduces oxidative stress in the disease and whether it is safe.
The study is designed to take place over 16 weeks, with patients divided into two groups: one receiving immunonutrition and the second receiving a drink that does not impact the immune system. After two weeks, the groups will switch drinks in what is called a cross-over design.
The study investigators predict that the oxidative stress will be impacted in the group taking the immunonutrition, stating “After the end of this period of study we expect the return of oxidative stress parameters to the baseline values in the group of patients who took immunonutrition in the first half of study but who were returned to routine nutrition support and contrary the improvement of oxidative stress parameters in the patients who started to take immunonutrition in the second half of study.”
People who are interested in participating in the clinical trial can refer to ClinicalTrials.gov for more information.
Eligible participants must be at least 18 years or older, have received enteral nutrition (also known as tube feeding) at least for the past 12 months. Patients cannot participate if they are waiting for a lung transplant or have an additional life limiting disease such as cancer.