Just a quick comment on the potential of research being conducted by Eric Sorscher, who came to Emory from University of Alabama, Birmingham in 2015 and is now a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar.Â While Sorscherâ€™s lab is working on advancing new treatments for cystic fibrosis patients who currently do not benefit from available drugs, it wasÂ intriguing to learn of potential side benefits beyond cystic fibrosis.
Cystic fibrosis is caused by mutations in the CFTR gene, which encodes a protein with important functions in cells that produce mucus, sweat, saliva, tears and digestive enzymes. But other things can impair the functioning of the CFTR protein besides genetic mutations. Namely, smoking.
As Annette Ehrhart, Sorscher and colleagues note in the discussion of a recent JBC paper, common conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease can be considered â€œacquired CFTR deficiencies.â€ (The paper doesnâ€™t focus on this â€“ itâ€™s a structural study of CFTR itself, with an eye to drug screening.)
Previous researchÂ from University ofÂ Alabama, BirminghamÂ has shown that cigarette smoking reduces CFTR activity and mucus transport in lung cells, and these effects are reversible by the cystic fibrosis drug ivacaftor (Kalydeco). On the other side of the coin, drugs that block CFTR could potentially treat cholera or other bacteria-triggered diarrhea.