Could North Atlantic seaweed hold key to cystic fibrosis treatment?
Although most people may treat seaweed as an exotic ingredient to add to their favorite recipes, many medical researchers have also taken note of the plant's healthy properties and have begun applying them to potential disease treatments and even cures. The latest news on this front comes from Norway, where scientists may have stumbled onto a possible solution for treating cystic fibrosis (CF) thanks to seaweed!
CF is a genetic and fatal lung disease that cuts down patients' life expectancy to under age 40. Although diagnoses and screening tools have improved in recent years, there is still as of yet no cure for this chronic lung condition. But a new medication based on a brand of Norwegian seaweed may help solve this.
According to The Daily Mail, a U.K. news publication, researchers have begun using a "highly purified type of alginate" extracted from this seaweed as a means of breaking down the thick mucus walls that CF builds within the lungs. That mucus, if let alone, ends up creating digestion problems and exposing the lungs to a variety of bacterial infections, which ultimately claim patients' lives. By eroding away this mucus, scientists hope that the new seaweed-derived medicine will offer a fighting chance to CF patients.
"This discovery promises hope to the thousands of families desperate for an effective treatment for CF," Ed Owen, head of the charity group Cystic Fibrosis Trust, told the source. "Life expectancy has improved in recent years but it's unacceptable that half of patients still won't see their 40th birthday."
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