Researchers Discover a Novel Technology to Detect and Treat Cystic Fibrosis (CF)

A multidisciplinary team of researchers, engineers, physicists, biomedical engineers, and clinicians from the Monash University conducted research that could hold the answers to the detection and proper treatment of lung conditions associated with cystic fibrosis (CF). This disease affects some 30,000 individuals in the U.S., with around 10,000 new cases diagnosed every year.

The team used X-ray velocimetry (XV) to assess the dynamics of airflow through the lungs during the normal breathing cycle and measure the presentations of the condition in the lungs. The team — led by Dr. Freda Werdiger of Monash University’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering — was able to identify the locations of irregular airflow within the lungs with conditions like CF and better compute the stage of the lung condition.

This initial phase of this research opens up new paths for a range of lung diseases to be detected, treated and managed earlier than existing technologies allow and at a much lower dose of radiation than present CT scanning. The findings of the study have been published in the scientific journal Scientific Reports.

Dr. Werdiger further added: “In this research study, we have tried to present two developments in XV analysis. In the initial one, we present the ability of laboratory-based XV to pinpoint the abnormal nature of the disease in infected mice. Next, we present an approach for the numerical computation of the CF-like disease, which can explain the two major modes of disease symptoms. This quantification model provides a straightforward, simple-to-interpret technique, and one proficient enough to be readily applied to huge volumes of data generated in XV imaging. All in all, these advances can show the power of XV for assessing the changes in local airflow.”

“Our team suggests that XV should be regarded as a novel lung function measurement tool for the development of medication in small animal models, for CF-like conditions, and other respiratory diseases.”

Cystic fibrosis is a hereditary progressive, chronic, and life-threatening disease that is caused by mutations in the CF Transmembrane-conductance Regulator gene. It usually develops in children below two years of age and gradually produces a steady degradation in the quality of life, thereby leading to premature death. The lung examination tools have to measure the abnormal nature of muco-obstructive lung diseases such as CF, which is crucial during the beginning stages of the condition when local therapeutics could be taken to prevent the progression of the disease.

Nevertheless, these tools have several limitations, the foremost being the inability to localize the cause of globally-assessed changes in lung well-being precisely. Examinations of the overall health of lungs in people and animals are undertaken using lung function tests that look for anomalies by measuring the airflow. Spirometry is the most popular and common lung assessment tool, but it measures global airflow at the mouth.

Irrespective of the availability of approaches that examines either lung function or lung structure, none of them are able to quantify function together and locate the source of those changes. Patchy lung functions during breathing have been confirmed to be an indicator of the condition. X-ray velocimetry is a novel technique that provides non-invasive and accurate real-time images of lung airflow in live organisms.

The world-class technology was designed and popularized by an Australian-based, med-tech company 4DMedical, led by CEO Andreas Fouras, who was also the former researcher of Monash University. The technology has since been used in clinical trials and research and has been recently given FDA approval in the USA for all respiratory indications in adults.

Dr. Werdiger said: “The success of the technology lies in its ability to represent successful and meaningful quantitative measures, and our research shows the way it can be achieved. In the years ahead, these technologies can be expected to be leveraged to the numerical quantification of CF-like diseases in larger quantities and other CF animal models. These techniques allow analyses to be applied directly and with little to no manual processing, thereby enabling the study and development of the treatment of CF and other muco-obstructive lung diseases. ”

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