Research

Research news out of the University of Saskatchewan may have answers for why people with cystic fibrosis are prone to lung infections. (Ted S. Warren/Associated Press)

There's significant research news coming out of the University of Saskatchewan on why people with cystic fibrosis are prone to lung infections.

Eighteen researchers looked inside the airways of normal pigs and piglets modified to have cystic fibrosis, but in the earliest stage of the disease so their lungs were still healthy.

The lead researcher, Juan Ianowski, says the piglets with cystic fibrosis never produced the normal amount of airway surface liquid in their lungs to fight off bacteria.

Ianowski says that liquid, including mucus, is sticky and catches bacteria, which helps healthy people fight off infection.

He says the researchers have concluded that the genetic mutation which causes cystic fibrosis prevents normal secretion of airway surface liquid, including mucus, so eventually the infections are permanent.

It took seven years to develop the technique needed to analyze the production of mucus in a living animal, where the normal layer of mucus is thinner than a strand of hair.