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Graphic of a healthy lung and one with cystic fibrosis

Cellular Pumps

Cystic fibrosis is a disease that afflicts tens of thousands of people in the United States. The disease is caused by a mutation in a protein, called the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR), which normally pumps chloride ions and water out of cells into the lungs. In cystic fibrosis, the pump doesn't work, and a sticky mucus in the lungs is produced, making it hard to breathe and the lungs prone to infection. Watch this video about how WHOI scientists are looking for molecules made by marine organisms that could stimulate the CFTRs to function normally, as a possible treatment for cystic fibrosis. (Illustration by Eric S. Taylor, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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