Cystic fibrosis is a disease that causes very thick mucus secretions to build up within the lungs, which in turn, leads to inflammation and chronic lung infections. The disease can reduce the life expectancy of those afflicted to about 40 years, with death primarily due to lung failure.
A team of researchers at the Center for Nanomedicine at the Wilmer Eye Institute, part of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine has been studying mucus in the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients. Their primary goal was to design inhalable therapeutic nanoparticles that cross the cystic fibrosis mucus barrier in the lung, to help restore normal function.
But the work recently led the researchers to the unexpected discovery that mucus appears to change as the disease progresses. They found that the mobility of these nanoparticles could vary widely in mucus from different patients. They will describe their findings this week during The Society of Rheology's 87th Annual Meeting, being held Oct. 11-15, 2015, in Baltimore, Md. Rheology is the branch of physics that deals with the deformation and flow of matter.
"At the time of our discovery, we didn't have a great explanation for this finding," said Gregg Duncan, a postdoctoral fellow. "So, we set out to figure out what caused the differences and whether or