The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s Research Development Program (RDP) recently expanded its network to include two new centers in Atlanta and Denver, which represent two of the largest cystic fibrosis treatment centers in the United States.
Over the next four years, the Colorado Research Development Program in Denver will receive $2.1 million in CFF funding in order to support research projects focused on diagnosing and treating Nontuberculous Mycobacteria (NTM) infections in cystic fibrosis. These NTM infections are a major concern for those suffering with cystic fibrosis since they are not only difficult to treat but also to diagnose, which can accelerate lung function decline.
The funding will allow the development of a National Reference Lab capable of improving analysis of NTM samples and to better detect potential outbreaks within and between centers. The research grant will also be used to further explore the reason behind why specific strains of NTM cause serious lung problems while others do not, according to Jerry Nick, the director of the Colorado RDP and the Adult Cystic Fibrosis Program at National Jewish Health in Denver, Colorado. Dr. Nick is not only a professor of medicine at National Jewish Health but also at the University of Colorado Denver — two of the five institutions that are part of the Colorado RDP. “It is essential we learn who will benefit from NTM treatment” to help doctors avoid pursuing unnecessary and aggressive antibiotic treatments, according to Nick.
In addition, a new RDP center was established in Atlanta. The Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Emory University and Georgia Tech will receive $1.8 million in CFF funding over the next four years to establish the CF@LANTA RDP program.
Scientists will focus on the underlying processes that cause permanent lung damage when pulmonary exacerbations occur and the advancement of CF-related diabetes, the most frequent co-existing condition linked with cystic fibrosis. These discoveries will eventually be translated into novel treatment approaches.
“We have been working to build infrastructure funding for the CF program for many years. This is a very important success for Atlanta’s CF research and clinical community,” noted Nael McCarty, who is the principal investigator of the grant and a Marcus Professor of Cystic Fibrosis at Emory University School of Medicine.
The CF Foundation in July also renewed four-year grants for nine other programs in the RDP network. The grants usually fund shared resources like core facilities and support staff who perform imaging studies or cell/tissue culture for researchers to use in experiments that will eventually lead to improved diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for Cystic Fibrosis.