Sick pigs helping to find cure for cystic fibrosis

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Pigs with cystic fibrosis have been created by genetic modification and cloning to speed research into the illness, the most common inherited disease in white people.

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is triggered when a person inherits two copies of a faulty gene carried by about one in 25 of the population.

The disorder causes widespread damage to internal organs, especially the lungs and gut, by clogging them with thick, sticky mucus.

Now a team at the University of Missouri has developed a pig which appears to closely mimic the disease. The striking similarities suggest that the pigs will help improve understanding and may also speed discovery of new treatments.

The researchers established that piglets develop the same disease characteristics that are commonly seen in newborn humans with cystic fibrosis.

As the pigs with cystic fibrosis mature and are exposed to airborne bacteria and viruses, the researchers hope to learn more about how and why lung disease develops in patients with cystic fibrosis.

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