$15M Donation to Support CF Research Program at University of Queensland

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by Mary Chapman |

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The University of Queensland (UQ), in Australia, has launched its Queensland Cystic Fibrosis Research Program with a goal of improving the life of people with this disease.

This research program is supported by $15 million donation put together by several sources: the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in the U.S., and in Australia, UQ together with the Children’s Hospital Foundation, the department of health Medical Research Future Fund, and an anonymous donor.

While treatment advances over decades have improved the health and longevity of cystic fibrosis (CF) patients, more studies are needed to understand disease-related issues like lung function decline and resistance to essential antibiotics.

“Despite improvements in general health, the CF community face significant issues such as premature loss of lung function, progressive lung disease, and antibiotic resistance,” Peter Sly, a program co-leader and UQ respiratory specialist, said in a news release. “Respiratory failure is common and can lead to the need for lung transplantation or early death.”

Sly will lead the Queensland Cystic Fibrosis Research Program together with two UQ professors, Clair Wainwright and Scott Bell.

A program focus is two planned projects: the Early Life Origins of CF Lung Disease (ELO), and the Mycobacterium abscessus (MABS) pulmonary disease program.

The Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) is made up of a group of nontuberculosis mycobacteria (NTM) responsible for about 70% of CF pulmonary infections. Mycobacterium abscessus is one type of NTM increasingly found in people with CF, and it can chronically infect the airways. According to the CF Foundation, much remains to be learned about NTM infections in CF patients, and more studies are needed to identify NTM risk factors and to develop new ways of treating such infections.

“The Children’s Hospital Foundation is proud to partner with UQ and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to fund this important work that strives to deliver improved health outcomes, better quality of life, and longer life expectancy for cystic fibrosis patients,” said Rosie Simpson, the foundation’s chief executive officer.

“Between 60 and 70 babies are diagnosed with cystic fibrosis in Australia every year, and about 450 children are treated for the disease at the Queensland Children’s Hospital annually,” Simpson added.

Apart from the Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service, the Metro North Hospital and Health Service, and Prince Charles Hospital, will also be involved in the new research program.

“The Queensland Cystic Fibrosis Research Program will improve outcomes for patients with CF in Queensland and elsewhere,” Sly said.

More than 70,000 individuals are estimated to live with CF worldwide, including 30,000 in the United States.