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|CYSTIC FIBROSIS||> > > > cystic fibrosis|
Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is a common disorder, affecting about 1 in 3000 infants born in the U.S. annually. The disease is caused by a defect in a protein in the lungs that results in a clogging of the airways with a thick mucus. This mucus unfortunately becomes a hospitable environment for bacteria. In the CF patient, a particular species of bacteria called Pseudomonas aeruginosa is the most common cause of infections. These infections result in chronic inflammation that ultimately is the major cause of death for most CF patients.
The Gulick lab is studying important biochemical pathways that these bacteria require during the establishment of an infection. For example, bacteria need iron as an essential nutrient to grow. Humans maintain large pools of iron that are tightly sequestered, making it unavailable for bacteria to use. To establish an infection, bacteria need to "steal" this iron.
Pseudomonas makes a molecule that effectively steals the iron and transports it, in the form of a molecular complex, back into the bacterial cell. The Gulick lab is studying many proteins in this biochemical pathway to understand why they are essential for bacteria and to identify ways to block their action.
A long-term goal is the development of new antibiotic compounds to inhibit the bacterial infections caused by Cystic Fibrosis and other diseases. This project is supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and the Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation.
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